Grape, cherry, roma, beefsteak… there are more than 300 varieties of tomatoes grown in Ontario! These varieties are usually separated into three, larger categories: round, plum, and beefsteak. Did you know that for many years, North America and Europe considered tomatoes just a decorative plant, and thought that eating them was unhealthy? We now know that just isn’t true - tomatoes are a great source of some key vitamins and antioxidants!
To get the most out of tomatoes, enjoy them both cooked and raw! Each category of tomato is best used for a specific purpose. Foodland Ontario recommends using the different varieties for different purposes:
- Round (or slicing) tomatoes are best raw in salads and sandwiches.
- Plum (or Roma) tomatoes are best for sauces and pastes because they are less juicy than round tomatoes.
- Beefsteak tomatoes can be used in both raw and cooked dishes. They are also less juicy than round tomatoes.
Although you will usually find tomatoes amongst other vegetables in the grocery store, they are technically a fruit! When in the grocery store, look for tomatoes that are firm but not hard. Tomatoes will continue to ripen after they are picked, so they will continue to soften when you bring them home. The skin should be smooth without any bruises or cuts.
After you bring your tomatoes home, store them unwashed and uncovered at room temperature until they are ripe. Do not keep them in direct sunlight so they ripen evenly. Once they are ripe, store them in the refrigerator and use them within a few days. If you have peeled or cut the tomatoes, store them in a clean container in the fridge for up to three days.
Clean under cool, running water. Tomatoes that are sliced from stem to bottom keep their juices better than tomatoes sliced horizontally. If you’d like to get rid of the juice, cut the tomato horizontally and gently squeeze the halves.
Tomatoes can be used in many different ways, but here are some unique ways to use them!
1. Use fresh tomatoes to make your own salsa or bruschetta!
2. Toast your favourite whole grain bread and make a toasted tomato sandwich.
3. Stuff a tomato with quinoa and veggies in place of a pepper.
Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette
Preparation Time: 15 minutes Serves: 4
- 1 cup (250 mL) Ontario green beans
- 4 - Ontario tomatoes, cut in wedges
- 1 cup Ontario mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese cubes
- 2 - Ontario green onions, chopped
- Ontario romaine lettuce leaves
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) Vegetable oil
- 2 Tbsp (25 mL)Lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Salt
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Pepper
- 2 Tbsp, 25 mL Fresh basil, chopped
1. Blanch green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Immediately plunge into ice water to stop cooking and set colour.
2. On a large platter, arrange tomatoes, mushrooms, beans, and cheese in concentric circles on Romaine leaves. Sprinkle tomatoes with green onions.
3. Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients. Spoon over salad.
Recipe Credit: Eat Right Ontario
Blueberry and Tomato Bruschetta
Preparation Time: 10 minutes Makes: 24 slices
- 2 pints (255 g each) Cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 8 fresh Basil leaves, chopped
- 1 cup (250 mL) Fresh blueberries
- 3 Tbsp (45 mL) Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp (15 mL) Aged balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp (1 mL) Salt
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) Crumbled feta cheese
- 1 - Baguette, sliced
1. In a large bowl, stir together tomatoes, blueberries and basil.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar and salt. Pour over tomato mixture and add feta. Stir gently to combine.
3. Spoon mixture onto baguette slices to serve.
Recipe Credit: Eat Right Ontario
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