Summer Solstice and Summer Tomatoes
Today is the official first day of summer and the longest day of the year. While this is cause to celebrate, equally as important to me is it means that tomato season is in full swing! Yes, I know, I know… you can get tomatoes year round but they are but mere imitators of our southern summer tomatoes. Can they compare to the sweet and juicy ones you grab off the vine and eat straight out of your hand or the ones freshly picked for a tomato sandwich on a hot summer day? I think not!
Tomatoes have long been a part of our history in the south. Tomatoes arrived in North America before the Revolutionary War, with the earliest reference to them in 1710, when an herbalist reported seeing them in what is now South Carolina. Thomas Jefferson grew tomatoes at Monticello back in 1781, but they didn’t really start to become popular here until after the Civil War. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the tomato gained popularity in the U.S. and since that time, we can’t seem to get enough.
Whether served at breakfast, lunch or supper, tomatoes are a versatile food and a frequent presence on our plates. Although part of the fruit family, and often called the love apple or golden apple in France and Italy, here in the South we treat it like a vegetable.
Not only do tomatoes taste delicious, they are super healthy. A great source of vitamins (A, C, E and K) and magnesium, niacin, iron, phosphorus and copper they have long been linked to a healthy lifestyle. For more info on the many health benefits of tomatoes read here: http://bangordailynews.com/2012/06/18/health/the-fruit-that-is-one-of-americas-favorite-vegetables-2/?ref=mostReadBoxLiving
Lucky for us peak season runs from June to September so you have plenty of time to enjoy this summer culinary treat. Head to your garden (or if you’re lucky like me your neighbor’s yard), farmer’s market or local grocery and grab some of summer’s sweetest and healthiest bounty then try some of our favorite recipes highlighting the tomato:
Baked Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes
Open Face Caprese Sandwich
Tomato Watermelon Sorbet
Breakfast Tomato Frittata
Tomato and Vidalia Onion Pizza
Fresh Tomato Gazpacho Soup
Fresh Tomato and Chicken Casserole