Tomatoes and Okra: Heirlooms and Indignities

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The nearing end of summer means tomatoes and okra galore for many of us. If you are one of these fortunate folks (and even if you’re not) these two articles may be of interest.

First, delve into the wonderful world of okra. If you aren’t familiar with this delectable perennial veggie (occasionally a little slimy when prepared in certain ways, but we won’t hold that against it), you may want to take some strides to get to know it. Not only can it broaden your palate, it also packs an incredible nutrient profile. As Nina Mckee explains this week on Food Tank:

Okra has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any vegetable. The pods do not contain any saturated fats or cholesterols and contain a rich variety of dietary fibers, minerals and vitamins. It contains beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein (compounds essential for vision), and important minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium."

The list of nutritious accolades goes on, so read the whole article if you’re curious. Also check out her recipe for Bengali style okra below.

But the real star of the summer is the tomato: particularly those heirloom varieties so much more intriguing than the usual beefsteak, plum or cherry. Kathy Gunst offers up a little history and a lot of growing know-how in her homage to the heirloom in Modern Farmer this week:

With seeds that have been passed down for generations, heirlooms are the original tomatoes. In America, tomatoes weren’t well known until after the Civil War. (First as a health craze: “Tomato pills” were sold as a cure-all in the 1830s.) The popularity of this fruit (yes, fruit) cemented first with the rise of ketchup and then salsa."

Check out her Gazpacho soup recipe also! It may be too late to plant a tomato crop for this summer, but next summer awaits! In the meantime, head over to your farmer’s markets and see if you can’t pick up a Cherokee Purple or a Green Zebra. You’ll be glad you did. Perhaps, you could throw them into this quick and easy salsa recipe brought to us by the food blog Skinny Fat Kids:

Salsa

Ingredients:

  • Cherry Heirloom Tomatoes - 2 cups, chopped in half or quarters

  • Cilantro - 1/4 cup, chopped

  • White onion - ½,  finely diced

  • Garlic - two cloves, minced

  • Serrano Pepper - two, seeded and chopped

  • Lime - 1/4 cup juice

  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, toss everything together except for the salt.

  2. Once everything is well combined, add the salt and stir again. Set aside for 5-10 minutes to let all the flavors set in. The salt will bring out the juices in the tomatoes. Refrigerate or serve.

Sources:

Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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