- Natasha Beatson, RD

What's not to love about tomatoes? They are juicy, flavourful and add just the right amount of colour to any dish. Local tomato season is upon us so here's some info on one of our favourite foods.

A tomato is actually a fruit but in cuisines around the world it's eaten as a vegetable. Of the many varieties of tomatoes at Owen Sound Zehrs right now, you can find bright Ontario-grown field, Roma, and grape tomatoes in store and ready for your plate.

In addition to being delicious, tomatoes are also bursting with nutritional benefits. They are high in vitamin C and potassium, are a good source of vitamin A, folate, and lycopene. Their deep red colour comes from the antioxidant, lycopene, which may help reduce the risk of certain cancers.

With a wide selection and many varieties of tomatoes in-store, it can be a challenge to know which to choose. To help you pick a good tomato and store it properly, look for firm, smooth tomatoes with no cracks or bruises that feel heavy when picked up. Store tomatoes unwashed until ready to use and keep them out of the refrigerator at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. You'll know when it's ripe when you can see a star-shaped marking on the bottom. When you're ready to prepare tomatoes, be sure to cut top to bottom – this will help retain the juice.

Tomatoes are extremely versatile. Tomatoes go well with basil, black pepper, mint, oregano, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and pair nicely with cucumbers, peppers, lettuce, onions, mozzarella, beef and some seafood. Here are three of my favourite ways to eat them: Fresh tomato gazpacho, Panzanella salad with bocconcini, and added whole to skewers and kabobs (best with cherry or grape tomatoes)
As we get deeper into the summer, more and more local produce will be available at our store. Don't miss out on the opportunity to enjoy flavourful local produce and to support local growers in our region! In the meantime check out this delicious recipe that is sure to get you hooked on tomatoes.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Pizzettes

6 mini burger or slider buns
¼ cup (50 mL) PC Splendido Tomato Pesto
1 pkg (140 g) soft unripened goat's milk cheese
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, cut in 12 rounds total

1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Open slider buns; place cut side up on baking sheet. Spread each half with 1 tsp (5 mL) tomato pesto. Crumble goat cheese and divide evenly among buns. Top each with a tomato slice.

Makes 12 servings.

Per serving: 80 calories, fat 4 g, sodium 150 mg, carbohydrate 7 g, fibre 1 g, protein 3 g

Recipe source:

Natasha is a registered dietitian with Owen Sound Zehrs. She is part of a network of more than 70
dietitians who provide services like one-on-one consultations, assisted shopping, school tours and recipe
ideas at locations across the country.

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