by Carol Harrison, RD
Canadians love tomatoes, and it’s easy to see why. They’re delicious and versatile. They’re packed with vitamin C, which plays an important role in bone health. And because Canada’s farmers grow nearly half a million tonnes of tomatoes each year in their fields and greenhouses, we can enjoy local tomatoes virtually year-round.
Easy tomato dishes such as caprese salad, bruschetta and BLT sandwiches are fast and familiar, but if you’re looking for flavourful new ideas, try one of these:
- Winter favourite: sheet-pan dinners. Roasting cherry or grape tomatoes intensifies their flavour and aroma. Try a sheet-pan dinner with a combo of boneless chicken thighs or salmon, tomatoes and green beans. Brush everything with a dressing made from 2 tbsp (30 mL) each canola oil and Dijon mustard. Sprinkle ingredients with salt and pepper before roasting.
- Summer favourite: Grilled Vegetable Panzanella. This tasty side dish combines garlicky pieces of day-old baguette with chopped tomatoes and peppers, all grilled in a savoury dressing. Serve with canned cannellini (white) beans for a complete meal.
- Year-round favourite: eggs and tomatoes. For a great meal any time of day, try these ideas:
- Sauté tomatoes and bell peppers to make a side dish for eggs.
- Add tomatoes to a frittata (for a pizza frittata, add chopped fresh basil and grated mozzarella).
- Bake an egg in a hollowed-out tomato, topped with a mix of panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese.
- Make a wrap with tomatoes, scrambled eggs, avocado and a dash of hot sauce.
Interested in growing your own tomatoes? Read: Tips for Growing Your own Tomatoes
Good to Know: Insects such as aphids and beetles love tomatoes as much as we do. That’s why farmers monitor their crops and take steps to manage pests. Farmers use pest control products to keep vegetables and fruits (including tomatoes) affordable. Without tools like pesticides, farmers would produce 50% fewer tomatoes. And thanks to careful pesticide use, the vegetables and fruits in our grocery stores are well below the stringent residue levels limits set by Health Canada.
Your Tomato Cheat Sheet
You can enjoy tomatoes raw or cook them in many different ways. Which tomatoes are best for which kinds of dishes?
- Round tomatoes are the juiciest. Use them raw in salads and sandwiches (slice tomatoes from top to bottom for the juiciest slices). They’re also great hollowed out (use a melon baller), stuffed and baked.
- Grape and cherry tomatoes are delicate and sweet, and they come in different colours. Add them to salads or sauté them with basil in a little canola oil for a simple pasta sauce.
- Plum (Roma) tomatoes are less juicy than other types. Roast them or use them for sauces and salsa.
- Beefsteak tomatoes are versatile, offering big, juicy slices perfect for burgers and sandwiches. Their meaty texture also works well in soups, sauces, curries and stews.
TIP: Eat your veggies! Only three out of 10 Canadians aged 12 and older eat five or more servings of veggies and fruits a day. Make it a habit: eat one more serving of vegetables or fruit a day, and work your way up to filling half your plate with veggies and fruits at every meal and snack. Grape tomatoes are easy to pack and eat for snacks.
Want more tips? Read: Your Money-Saving Guide to Storing Tomatoes