Seduced by the Pomme D’amour

Awwwwe…the tomato with its smooth shiny skin, voluptuous curves and natural beauty; so sweet and tart. You can’t help but stare…but please don’t stop there. Then you have to touch it, hold it, taste it and savor every color, shape, size and variety that you can get your hands on. It’s no wonder the French gave it the name pomme d’amour or the “love apple.”

Surprisingly, the Italians were uncharacteristically pragmatic and called it poma d’oro, or “gold apple,” because of the early tomato’s golden fruit. Some Italians called it poma Peruviana thus identifying the tomato’s Peruvian origin but by the middle of the 18th century, the Peruvian native had managed to seduce Italy and many other European countries and forever influence some of their signature dishes.

Today, in our California farmer’s markets, the tomato is at her peak. She is the star of our healthy daily diet. We eat tomatoes raw with basil, goat cheese, and olive oil sprinkled with kosher salt so we can savor their sweetness and tang. Then after their season passes, we eat them preserved in hearty soups and satisfyingly rich sauces to accompany our favorite pastas and rustic country breads topped with shavings of the best pungent Pecorino sheep’s milk cheese to warm and comfort us.

Although botanically a fruit, tomatoes are thought of and served predominantly as a vegetable. Tomatoes, eggplants and bell peppers are all part of the Solanacea family. Tomatoes are the leader where vitamin C is concerned. A medium tomato (120 g) contains about 23 milligrams of vitamin C and will enhance iron absorption. And more importantly, you can indulge — it is very low in calories with only 21 calories per 100 grams. The tomato is a natural diuretic. and helps with the elimination of excess water being retained by the body. The most exciting news is that tomatoes contain lycopene (the chemical responsible for the red color). Lycopene is a phytochemical and is believed to have powerful anticancer properties, especially against prostate cancer. To get the greatest benefit and absorption of lycopene, tomatoes should be heated and served with olive oil.

Right now in midsummer, tomatoes are at the peak season of their season. Cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, pear tomatoes, grape tomatoes, golden tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes are just a few of the tomatoes available right now at your local Farmer’s Market. Always look for tomatoes free of bruises with smooth skin and always store tomatoes at room temperature.

So. when was the last time that anything that brought you so much pleasure and was actually good for you? Well, we have got two amazingly fresh, flavorful and quick recipes for you to try out and enjoy!

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