Autumn may have just begun, but you still have time to take advantage of in-season summer vegetables like tomatoes.
Tomatoes are a great source of beta-carotene and lycopene, which are part of a group of antioxidants called carotenoids that can help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer. They are found in many fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Lycopene is most present in tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes over heat makes the lycopene easier for the body to use. Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body, which is beneficial for healthy vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell function and for the immune system. Also, tomatoes are great source of potassium.
Sound good? Try these tomato and basil recipes. Basil has a sweet yet savory taste that pairs well with tomatoes. For those experiencing taste changes, it has a mild flavor to complement foods, and it is more palatable than strong flavors like spices.
Curious when your favorite fruits and vegetables are in season? Find out here.
Tomato Basil Bruschetta, 12 servings
- 8 tomatoes (ripe, Roma plum, chopped)
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- ½ red onion (chopped)
- 6 basil leaves (fresh)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (extra-virgin)
- Salt (optional, to taste)
- Pepper (optional, to taste)
- 2 mini French bread (or Italian, cut into ½-inch diagonal slices)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional). Set aside.
- Arrange bread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake about five to seven minutes until it begins to brown slightly.
- Remove bread from oven and transfer to a serving platter.
- Serve the tomato mixture in a bowl with a serving spoon, or place some on each slice of bread before serving. If adding the tomato mixture yourself, add it at the last minute or the bread may become soggy.
Source: What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl
Tomato Basil Soup
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 3 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Basil leaves (optional)
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, and stir constantly while cooking for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the broth, salt and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in basil. Place half of the soup in a blender. Process until smooth.
- Pour pureed soup into a bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining soup.
- Garnish with basil leaves (optional).