Hot summer days also mean tomato plants are heavy with beautiful, juicy tomatoes. One may start to wonder, is tomato a fruit or a vegetable? You may be surprised to know that both answers are the correct. The tomato is botanically a fruit because it contains seeds. However, it was deemed a vegetable in 1893 after the U.S. Supreme Court labeled it that way for tax purposes. Today, the USDA continues to define the tomato as a vegetable. Their dual definition goes to show how versatile the tomato is! They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and each type has a unique flavor. And the Heirloom tomatoes are back and are all the rage! They have been passed down from generation to generation.
My favorite are the plain green tomatoes called Aunt Ruby’s German Green, or red and green striped, called Green Zebra. They are tart and crunchy suitable for juices, sandwiches, and grilling but could be made even into a dessert. A novelty tomato is Black Beauty, a very dark-colored once.
Tomatoes are a good source of several vitamins and minerals. A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily recommended minimum of Vitamin C, Potassium (which is beneficial for blood pressure control and heart disease prevention), Lycopene (which protects against cataracts and macular degeneration), Folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin K (which is good for your bones).
There are many uses of tomatoes, but our family favorite is this:
Light Summer Tomato Salad
4-6 tomatoes, depending on the size (chopped)
1 large cucumber (unpeeled and chopped)
1 large red onion, as they are the sweetest (chopped or sliced)
1/2 cup good quality olive oil
1 Tbsp. marjoram spice
1 cup of your favorite olives
1/2 cup quality Feta cheese, crumbled or grated. There are French, Greek, and Bulgarian varieties. Try them all and decide for yourself which one is your favorite!
Gather the ingredients
In a large bowl, place tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and toss
Add marjoram and olive oil and mix well
Let sit outside of the refrigerator before serving as the ingredients mellow and blend better
Top with Feta cheese
Make a resolution to grow your own tomatoes next spring!
If you have questions about anything tomatoes, please feel free to contact me
Community Services Librarian
Kansas City, Kansas Public Library
625 Minnesota Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66101
913-295-8250 ext 1103