Tomato is a fruit from the nightshade family that is widely used as a vegetable in cooking. It is native to South America, where it was domesticated by the indigenous people thousands of years ago. It was brought to Europe by the Spanish explorers in the 16th century and spread to other parts of the world through trade and colonization.
Tomato has a round or oval shape, with smooth or wrinkled skin and juicy flesh. It can vary in size, color, and flavor depending on the variety. Some of the most common types are cherry, grape, plum, beefsteak, roma, and heirloom tomatoes. Tomato can be eaten raw or cooked in various ways, such as in salads, sauces, soups, stews, pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, and more.
How to Prepare Tomato?
Tomato can be prepared in many ways to suit different dishes and preferences. Before eating or cooking a tomato, it is important to wash it well and remove the stem and core if desired. Some people prefer to peel off the skin, as it may contain pesticides or dirt. However, the skin also contains antioxidants and fiber that are beneficial for health.
To prepare tomato for cooking, you can slice it, dice it, chop it, grate it, puree it, or use a spiralizer to make tomato noodles. You can also roast it whole or halve it and scoop out the seeds if you want to reduce the moisture content. Tomato can be cooked in water, oil, butter, vinegar, wine, broth, or any other liquid or sauce. You can also add herbs, spices, garlic, onion, cheese, or any other flavorings you like.
How to Cook Tomato?
Tomato can be cooked in many ways to create delicious and nutritious dishes. Here are some common methods of cooking tomatoes:
- Boiling: Boiling is one of the easiest and fastest ways to cook tomatoes. Simply bring a pot of water to a boil and add some salt and sugar to balance the acidity. Then add the whole or chopped tomatoes and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until soft. You can also add some basil, oregano, thyme, or any other herbs you like.
- Roasting: Roasting is a great way to enhance the natural sweetness and flavor of tomato. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters and toss them with some oil, salt, pepper, and any herbs or spices you like. Spread them in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast for 25 to 35 minutes or until charred and shriveled.
- Frying: Frying is a popular way to make crispy and juicy tomatoes on the stovetop. Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced or diced tomatoes and some salt
- and pepper and fry for about 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp, flipping occasionally. You can also add some garlic, cheese, or eggs to make a delicious tomato frittata.
- Baking: Baking is a versatile way to make savory or sweet dishes with tomatoes in the oven. You can make tomato pie, quiche, casserole, gratin, or lasagna by adding cheese, eggs, cream, or breadcrumbs to the tomatoes. You can also make tomato jam, chutney, or salsa by adding sugar, vinegar, or spices to the tomatoes.
- Grilling: Grilling is another way to make smoky and charred tomatoes on the grill. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters and brush them with some oil, salt, pepper, and any herbs or spices you like. Place them cut-side down on the grill and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until charred and soft, turning once.
Benefits of Tomato
Tomato has many health benefits, thanks to its rich content of nutrients and antioxidants. Some of the benefits of tomatoes are:
- Improves skin health: Tomato is a good source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from sun damage and aging. Lycopene also helps prevent acne and improve skin elasticity.
- Supports heart health: Tomato also contains potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and prevent strokes. Potassium also balances the sodium levels in the body and reduces the risk of kidney stones.
- Fights infections: Tomato also contains vitamin C, which boosts the immune system and fights infections and inflammation. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds and prevent scurvy.
- Prevents cancer: Tomato is rich in antioxidants, such as lycopene, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which can prevent oxidative stress and DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Some studies have shown that tomato consumption may reduce the risk of prostate, breast, lung, and stomach cancers.
- Aids digestion: Tomato is high in fiber, which can help improve digestion and prevent constipation. Fiber also helps lower cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels.
How to Store Tomato?
Tomato can last for several days if stored properly.
Here are some tips on how to store tomatoes:
- Keep them at room temperature: The best place to store tomatoes is at room temperature, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. This will preserve their flavor and texture better than refrigerating them. However, if you live in a hot or humid climate, you may want to refrigerate them to prevent spoilage.
- Store them stem-side down: The stem end of the tomato is where most of the moisture loss occurs. To prevent this, store them stem-side down on a plate or a paper towel. This will also prevent bruising and mold growth.
- Ripen them in a paper bag: If you have unripe tomatoes that are green or hard, you can ripen them faster by placing them in a paper bag with a banana or an apple. These fruits emit ethylene gas, which stimulates the ripening process. Check them daily and remove them when they are ripe.
- Freeze them: If you want to store tomatoes for longer than a week, you can freeze them. However, you need to blanch them first to preserve their color and texture. Blanching is a process of briefly boiling and then cooling the tomatoes in ice water. This stops the enzyme activity that can cause deterioration. After blanching, peel peel off the skin and core of the tomatoes. Then chop them into quarters or halves and pack them in freezer bags or containers. You can freeze them for up to a year.
Top Potato Recipes to Try
- Mary Berry Tomato and Basil Soup
- Mary Berry Roasted Tomato Soup
- James Martin Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
- Mary Berry Green Tomato Chutney
- Mary Berry Vegetarian Lasagne Recipe
- Make Hairy Bikers Sausage Casserole