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Tomatoes

Tomatoes, an excellent source of antioxidants

Tomatoes are the main vegetable in the Mediterranean diet; nevertheless, they are a recurring ingredient in many other gastronomic traditions. The reason is simple: it is good, nutritious, versatile, and very healthy. It has high levels of vitamins C and E, among other nutrients. Additionally, it contains a lot of antioxidants, like lycopene, which protects the heart from damage, neutralises the effects of free radicals, and even helps prevent cancer. It also has a lot of carotenoids, which help to produce vitamin A. Tomatoes are also good for the cardiovascular system, as they lower bad cholesterol and help prevent high blood pressure. All at the cost of a very low calorie intake.

The tomato, although it is considered a vegetable, is actually a fruit, more specifically, a berry. It thrives best in Mediterranean regions, which are damp and mildly warm. The soil’s capacity to hold water and its overall richness are the primary determinants of fruit quality.

The most popular varieties of tomatoes

Given that tomatoes have been grown extensively outside of the Americas for about 5,000 years, the sheer number of varieties that are currently on the market is not shocking. Here’s a brief rundown of the most well-known ones:

  • Costoluto. It is characterised by lateral ribs, a rather firm (and juicy) pulp, and a strong flavour. It is mainly used for salads.
  • San Marzano. It is one of the most popular varieties. It is very juicy and slightly sweet; it is suitable for sauces.
  • Ox heart. It is one of the most cultivated varieties, characterised by a very firm pulp and the absence of filaments. It is a classic salad tomato.
  • Piccadilly. A widely cultivated variety of cherry tomatoes, it is appreciated for its sweet flavour and is especially used in the preparation of salads.
  • Cherry tomatoes. The variety attributable to the category of table tomatoes makes it suitable for both the production of sauces and raw consumption rather than salads.
  • Pachino. This variety is mainly grown in Sicily and contains all the characteristics of other types of cherry tomatoes. Excellent both as a condiment and as a salad ingredient.
  • Piennolo: When compared to other tomato varieties, the Piennolo cherry tomato is very unique. It is actually distinguished by a very sweet flavour, which contributes to its adaptability while also giving it a surplus of sometimes surprising taste (particularly to those who are not used to it).
  • Kumato: They have a hint of acidity and are slightly sweeter than red tomatoes.
  • Yoom. It is a registered variety. In fact, it only made its appearance in 2019, the result of the “botanical wisdom” of the manufacturer Syngenta. It is characterised by its purple colour, which is determined by an abundance of anthocyanins. Its flavour is balanced between acidic and sugary.

What can you cook with this vegetable?

The tomato’s flexibility has undoubtedly contributed to its popularity. It is the star of countless recipes, and nearly all of them are savoury. Tomatoes can improve salads, side dishes, and main and second meals. In Italy, it is practically an institution, a symbol of Mediterranean cuisine.

I’ve included a number of recipes below that have been enhanced with tomatoes. You have plenty of options. They range from the classic tagliatelle with cherry tomatoes to the more original pasta salad.

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