Did You Know?
Solanum lycopersicum originated in the Andes Mountains of South America, most likely Peru and Ecuador. They are thought to have been domesticated in pre-Columbian Mexico. The name “tomato” is derived from the Aztec word tomatl.
Tomatoes were eventually brought to North America from Europe. There are records of tomatoes being raised by Thomas Jefferson in 1781 and were documented as grown for food in Louisiana in 1812, but they did not gain popularity in the United States until the early 1900s. Ohio has since declared the tomato as one of the official state fruits and named tomato juice as the official state beverage in 1965.
Botanically a tomato is a fruit; it is the berry of a flowering plant. Due to its savory taste, lower sugar content, and nutritional value, it can also be classified as a vegetable. This crisis of identity was resolved by a 1893 United States Supreme Court ruling that, for legal and tariff purposes, officially declared the tomato a vegetable.
Nutritious and Delicious
Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamins C, A, K, B9 and antioxidants. Vitamin C supports the production of collagen in the body while B9 helps balance homocysteine levels, which can reduce risk factors for heart disease. The antioxidants can help combat against the formation of free radicals, which lead to cancer. The fiber and potassium found in tomatoes help support heart health and maintain healthy blood pressure. Tomatoes can reduce blood glucose in diabetics and are a good source of folic acid. Since tomatoes are primarily water, they can also aid in hydrating the body.
Tomatoes are diverse in their uses. Add to salsa, salads, omelets, pizza and pasta sauces, sandwiches, and stews. Or use cherry or grape tomatoes in a veggie platter and dip in hummus or plain yogurt. Kindly remember that tomatoes (specifically the leaves, stems, and unripe fruit) are not friendly to pets and should always be washed before human consumption.
Here’s What We’re Cookin’ Up!
- 8 (1/2-inch thick) slices sourdough bread
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 250 degrees.
- Spread the pesto on one side of each slice of bread. Evenly distribute the mozzarella over 4 of the pesto bread slices, then top with the tomatoes. Top the stacks with the remaining 4 bread slices, pesto-side down.
- Brush olive oil evenly on the outsides of the sandwiches. Cook in skillet until both sides are toasted and golden-brown.
- Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted in all 4 sandwiches.