T is for Tomato
Tomatoes are a fruit that we usually enjoy as a vegetable. The seeds inside of it make a fruit, specifically a berry. Its easy to imagine a grape or cherry tomato as a berry, since they grow in small clusters on a vine-like plant. This fruit is usually red, but it comes in a variety of colors and sizes.
Tomatoes can be small, like cherry and grape; medium sized, like the Roma (plum) tomato or the smaller ones you can find on the vine in the store; or very large tomatoes like the popular Beefsteak tomato. The colors can range from red and orange, to yellow, green, and even purple. The color of the tomato does not matter, they all contain the same nutrients!
Tomatoes are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene; they are good for your eyes, skin, and heart, and helping to keep you healthy and fight infection. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help your body stay healthy and prevent some types of cancer. Lycopene is actually easier for your body to absorb if the tomato has been heated, so canned tomatoes, which are heated in the canning process, are a great way to get all those good-for-you nutrients all year round!
Some great options for canned tomatoes are soups, chilis, and of course, pasta dishes! Try these two quick and easy recipes using canned tomatoes. They’re affordable and always at their freshest, no matter what time of year you buy them.
Inside-Out Lasagna (serves 4) recipe from eatingwell.com
- 8 ounces whole-wheat rotini or fusilli
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves cloves garlic, sliced
- 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms (about 3½ cups) (use canned for quicker prep)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
- 8 cups baby spinach
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- ¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release their liquid, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, spinach and crushed red pepper (if using). Increase heat to medium-high; cook, stirring once halfway through, until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes.
- Toss the sauce with the pasta and divide among 4 bowls. Dollop each serving with 3 tablespoons of ricotta.
Tuna Pomodoro (serves 4) recipe from eatingwell.com
- 8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 anchovies, minced (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 6-ounce can chunk light tuna, drained and flaked (see Note)
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook spaghetti, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add anchovies (if using) and crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. Stir in tuna and cook until it is incorporated into the sauce and heated through, 2 minutes more.
- Divide the spaghetti evenly among 4 plates, top with sauce and garnish with basil. Serve hot.
**Note: Chunk light tuna, which comes from the smaller skipjack or yellowfin, has less mercury than canned white albacore tuna. The FDA/EPA advises that women who are or might become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children consume no more than 6 ounces of albacore a week; up to 12 ounces of canned light tuna is considered safe.