This incredible fruit (yes, it's a fruit!) is chock-full of micronutrients, vitamins and antioxidants that work together in a way that can ward off cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Scientific studies have shown that the more tomatoes you eat, the better. Cooking tomatoes is best of all because simmering them along with some heart-healthy oil, like olive oil, makes it even easier for the body to absorb all of the beneficial properties.
Finding fresh tomatoes that taste good out of season is a tall order. Hot-house, vine-ripened tomatoes are a decent substitute for summer-fresh tomatoes, but they are very expensive. That's why I focus on canned tomatoes in the winter and save fresh tomato salads and the like for summer.
Canned tomatoes are cheap, delicious and you can use them in everything from soups to pasta sauces. Canned tomatoes come in all kinds of textures from a completely smooth, sauce consistency to whole peeled plum tomatoes. I find the chopped variety most versatile.
Never store fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator! The cold temperature ruins their flavor and texture. Instead, keep them on the kitchen counter until you're ready to use them—even if they're ripe when you buy them, they will stay good for up to a week.
Let delicious, fresh tomatoes shine through by preparing them as simply as possible: Slice them, arrange them on a plate and drizzle them with some good olive oil, a dash of herbs (fresh or dried) and a sprinkle of salt. Shave some good Parmesan cheese, or another favorite hard cheese, over the top for a special treat.
When it comes to canned tomatoes, the options are limitless. For one of the quickest soups ever, just sauté some garlic in olive oil and whip it up in a blender with a can of tomatoes for a zesty cold soup. Or, simply transfer it to a saucepan, heat it up and serve it with some crusty bread for a cold-weather comfort dish.
Getting Kids to Eat It
Whether they know it or not, kids love eating tomatoes—I'm talking about pizza, of course! Every kid I've ever come across adores a slice of pizza. Fortunately, it just so happens to be a wonderful vehicle for consuming lots of cooked tomatoes. Studies show that people who eat pizza regularly reduce their rates of heart disease and cancer. The one trick is you have to make sure it's Italian-style pizza with a nice, thin crust, good-quality cheese and lots of tomato sauce; greasy, deep-dish, American-style pizza doesn't make the cut.
Get Dave's recipe for Whole Wheat Triple-Tomato Pizza.