Summer—and August in particular—is the ideal time of year to eat tomatoes in New England. Not that they don’t taste great all the time, but during this small seasonal window, they’re locally grown and in their peak, meaning they taste sweeter, lusciously acidic, juicier, and more like a fruit (which technically, they are) than at any other time.
They’re also a treasure trove of nutrition, including a type of phytochemicals that bring all kinds of health perks. That jelly-like stuff around the seeds? That’s packed with vitamin C, as is the rest of the tomato. It’s also a great source of lutein, zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins A, E, and the B vitamins, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Moreover, tomatoes are a particularly concentrated source of lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant that give them their red color. Its power as an antioxidant is believed powerful enough to significantly protect against strokes, heart disease, and multiple cancers (prostrate, breast, intestinal, and pancreatic).
To reap those nutritional benefits and all of the intense, beautiful flavor of tomatoes this time of year, get to your local farmers market and store them in at room temperature until perfectly ripe. They don’t take much work in the kitchen to coax into a delicious dish. Here’s one of our favorite recipes:
¼ cup thinly vertically sliced red onion
½ pound ripe peaches, pitted and cut into wedges
¼ pound heirloom beefsteak tomatoes, cut into thick wedges
¼ pound heirloom cherry or pear tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 avocado, diced
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 small bunch fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
Drizzle vinegar mixture over peach mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and basil and serve.