October 7, 2010

When your tomatoes are not red--

We are at the tail end of tomato season, which means that you are most likely harvesting green tomatoes. I've had my run-in with a frying pan and a green tomato this year. Last week I despaired of not having the time to recreate the recipe (simple yet time-intensive) and opted for a green tomato salsa. It's an easy and quick recipe that will use up your green tomatoes, as well as any extra hot peppers and cilantro. A basic salsa recipe includes:

1. Tomatoes
2. Garlic
3. Onions, minced
4. Lime Juice
5. Salt (Kosher or Sea Salt)
6. Hot Peppers/Bell Peppers
7. Olive oil
8. Cilantro (optional)

You could add other items, of course (black beans, corn.) Personally, I like to use what I have available, for the economy of the thing. I don't have a good picture to share. I think we all know what salsa looks like.

I really enjoyed the green tomatoes, and I also had a good experience with a yellow tomato,which I attempted to paint, and then eventually ate in slices. I posted the painting on my fridge. See above photo. I also painted a hot pepper, just for the fun of it.The tomato was sweet and subtle, not quite as tart as a red variety. The pepper was so spicy that it burned my hands!

Should you be interested in the health benefits of yellow and green vs. red tomatoes. A quick search reveals a helpful Q & A from the New York Times, written by C. Claiborn Ray. A little dated (2000), but still informative:

Q. I see yellow tomatoes, among other exotic types, at vegetable stores. Do they differ in nutritional value from red tomatoes?

A. Like all vegetables, tomatoes differ somewhat in nutritional value from variety to variety, and even from season to season. For example, the United States Department of Agriculture lists different average nutrient contents for tomatoes harvested from November to May and for those from June to October.

Many food values are comparable for red and yellow tomatoes, or are a tradeoff. For example, the amino acids are found in similar smidgens. The precursor of vitamin A called beta carotene is found in valuable amounts in red and yellow tomatoes and in many other vegetables.

Both colors have vitamin C, though a red tomato has about three times as much. Minerals are similar, though a yellow tomato is higher in sodium. Yellow tomatoes have more niacin and folate; red tomatoes have more vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid, and so on.

But there is one significant nutrient, reported in some studies to be a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent cancer, that is found in red tomatoes but not in others: lycopene. Lycopene, which is also converted in the body to vitamin A, is the very thing that makes red tomatoes red. The redder the tomato, the more lycopene, and no lycopene at all is to be found in green or yellow tomatoes.