Recipes for Beauty: Tomatoes

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I was in the 4th grade when I learned that tomatoes aren’t vegetables, but fruits. Despite my initial enthusiasm about this strange fact—I raced home to impress my mom and younger sister with my newfound wisdom—I’m still not convinced. While tomatoes are scientifically a fruit (meaning they grow from ovaries and contain seeds), they’ll always be a vegetable in my mind. If it looks like a vegetable, tastes like a vegetable, and cooks like a vegetable, it’s a vegetable.

However you categorize tomatoes, their skin benefits are the real deal. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins A and C, which promote healthy cell growth, reduce inflammation from acne, and stimulate the production of skin-firming collagen. They’re also packed with lycopene, a carotenoid that helps protect against sun damage by blocking free radical damage. In fact, the BBC conducted a study that suggests people who eat a diet high in lycopene may have as much as 30% more protection against UV damage than those who don’t. Tomatoes also have a kick of potassium, which keeps skin hydrated by preventing cells from losing water.

All fruits and veggies are the most flavorful right after they’ve been picked, but this is especially true for tomatoes, which can take on a slightly metallic tang if they sit for too long. They’re best from your local farmer’s market (or backyard garden). You may even have a few unusual color choices; yellow and orange tomatoes have a sweeter flavor, while black tomatoes (most often a dark red or purplish color) have a hint of smokiness. Feel free to use any type or color of tomato in these three, easy recipes that are perfect for summer.

On the Grill: Cheesy Grilled Tomatoes

  • 4 firm, ripe tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the grill on high heat. Cut the tomatoes in half and gently remove seeds and pulp. Brush the cut side of the tomatoes with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Coat the grill with cooking spray and grill the tomatoes, cut side down, for 4 minutes. Flip and top with the mozzarella. Grill until the cheese is just melted (about 1 minute). Before serving, drizzle tomatoes with the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil and top with basil. Serves 4

Summery Side: Green Bean and Tomato Salad

For the pesto spread:

  • 1 1b green beans 
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil 
  • Salt and pepper

Trim the green beans and blanch 4-5 minutes in a pot of boiling, salted water. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Whisk together the red wine vinegar and olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss the vinaigrette with the green beans, tomatoes and shallots. Serves 6

Chilled Soup: Gazpacho with Herbed Goat Cheese

recipe courtesy of: Food & Wine

For the soup:

  • 2 1/2 lbs tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 3/4 lbs kirby cucumbers, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chopped basil
  • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 12 sugar snap peas, halved and cooked until tender in boiling, salted water
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • Salt and pepper

For the herbed goat cheese:

  • 6 oz goat cheese
  • 2 Tbsp chopped basil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, tomato juice, olive oil, lemon juice, onion, basil, and cilantro together in a large bowl. Puree in a blender, working in batches. Pour into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until chilled. Next, blend the goat cheese with basil and cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl of soup with a dollop of herbed goat cheese, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and avocado. Serves 8