Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tomato salad with olives and feta

There are very few vegetables that can top the flavor of a ripe fresh tomato. Did I say vegetable? Tomato is actually classified as a fruit, but lacks the sweet flavor that other fruits have, so it is used in savory dishes and not in deserts.

Tomatoes are available all year round at the supermarkets, however, those can hardly compere to the locally grown vine ripped tomatoes. There are many reasons for this, one being that ripe tomatoes are soft and many varieties have thin skin, and don't transport well. So, take advantage of these tasty fruits while they are in season!

Do not refrigerate tomatoes, they will lose flavor. If you have tomatoes that are not completely ripe, store them in a brown paper bag. This will help them ripen to their full flavor. If you've already cut a tomato, the remaining slices should be stored in the refrigerator.

Tomatoes have multiple nutritional benefits. They are great source of vitamins A, C and K, and minerals including potassium and iron. Tomatoes are particularly rich in powerful antioxidant lycopene which can help prevent the spread of cancerous cells.

A ripe tomato will be usually dark red, however there are other varieties- orange, yellow, dark purple, etc. Heirloom tomatoes do not fall off the vine when they are ready, and their color may not be uniform. Still, it's easy to check if they are ripe- if you feel it with your hand, it should be uniformly soft.

Fresh salads are very easy to make in general. They are refreshing, healthy, and go well with any meal. The secret is to get fresh and tasty ingredients. Not every tomato is born equal! Get a ripe heirloom variety for this salad. There are many kinds of heirloom tomatoes. The one I used is called Brandywine.

Cut tomatoes in slices. Heirloom tomatoes tend to be big, so the slices will be huge too. You may cut them small if you like, but then the tomato harts will fell out, and the salad won't look as pretty. Salt the tomato slices and sprinkle with olive oil.

Add desired amount of feta cheese and olives. Crumble feta into small pieces. Do not overdo on the feta, especially it its too aged and salty, because it will overwhelm the flavor of the tomatoes. You can use any olives you like.

Tomatoes are easy to grow in your home garden, and even in pots. They do however require quite a bit of work, as they grow very fast and need to be tied at least once a week. The pictures I used here are tomatoes grown in my garden.


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