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Tomato is a true fruit with the botanical name ‘Solanum lycopersicum’. Tomato has a distinctive red color with savory taste. It is a fruit but usually it is used as a vegetable due to its savory taste. The interior of tomato is full of seeds and moist flesh. It is a readily available vegetable that is use in each and every household in several dishes. Tomato chutney, tomato sandwich and tomato puree are some of the most popular tomato recipes that are well-liked in all cuisines.

History of Tomato

The tomato is believed to be the native of South America. Around 500 BC, one species of tomato was bought to Mexico and people of Mesoamerican civilization had cultivated it there. According to historians, Cortes, a Spanish explorer is the first person to transport the yellow tomato to Europe.

Culinary Use of Tomato

The edible fruit of tomato has been used for various culinary purposes. There are numerous tomato dishes that are made by using tomatoes in different forms. The most common use of tomato while cooking is to make tomato paste or puree. It can be used in various gravy dishes as well as to make sauces. Sliced tomatoes are also widely used in sandwiches and salads. Often tomatoes are dried under sun and fondly used in tomato recipes are sun-dried tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are used as a side dish with grilled meats. Soup, salsa and tomato pickle are tomato dishes that have their popularity spread all over the world.

Popular Tomato Dishes

Tomato dishes are commonly served in global cuisine. Cream of tomato soup, Mexican salsa, tomato ketchup and the famous cocktail Bloody Mary are some of the most popular tomato recipes. Canned tomato paste and tomato puree are widely sold in international market. Most of the pasta and pizza sauces are made with tomato as the key ingredient. Famous Indian butter chicken is cooked with tomato gravy as its base. Spanish gazpacho is also famous for its savory tomato taste. Fried green tomatoes are a savory tomato dish mainly cooked in Southern United States. In this tomato recipe, unripe tomatoes are fried with a coating of cornmeal and served as a side dish.

Cuisines Commonly Making Tomato Dishes

Tomato recipes are extensively used in Italian as well as Mediterranean cuisines. Almost all Italian pizzas and pastas are made with tomato sauce as one of the ingredient. Chopped or sliced tomatoes are also fondly garnished on pizza and meat dishes in Mediterranean cuisines. In Indian cuisine, tomato has a very important role to play in making gravies and curries. Fresh salad in Indian meal also consists of sliced tomatoes. One of the most popular tomato dishes served in continental breakfast is tomato sandwich. Sun dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are widely used in American tomato recipes. In Spanish cuisine and Catalan cuisine tomato dishes are commonly served as breakfast and side dishes.

Preferred Methods for Cooking Tomato Recipes

Tomato is basically used to give savory and tangy taste to dishes. Tomato dishes are usually salty rather than sweet. Here are some of the methods that can be used to cook tomatoes:

• Boiling – Tomatoes are boiled to make tomato soup as well as various sauces.

• Pureeing – Whole tomatoes are processed in blender to make tomato paste or puree. Tomato puree is widely used to make curry tomato dishes.

• Canning – Whole tomatoes or pureed tomatoes are canned to sell commercially.

• Picking – Tomato pickles are usually made with little sugar and vinegar as a preservative.

• Frying – Unripe green tomatoes are breaded with cornmeal or white flour and fried to serve as a well-liked side dish.

• Stuffing – Stuffed tomato dishes are served as well-liked side dishes.

Nutritive Value of Tomato

• Tomatoes and tomato dishes are good source of beta carotene and potassium.

• They are also considered as a useful source of vitamin C and E.

• Tomato is widely used to make diet tomato dishes due to its low calorie contents.

• According to researchers, the pigment that turns tomatoes into red color is helpful in preventing some forms of cancer.

Consumption Criteria of Tomato Dishes

Though tomato is a highly nutritive ingredient many people are allergic to it. Mouth ulcers, eczema and migraine are some of the adverse effects of consuming tomatoes as well as tomato dishes.

Buying and Storing of Tomatoes

Tomato is available throughout the year but it should be picked with extra care. Here are few tips for buying and storing the tomato and tomato dishes:

• Select tomatoes that are firm and round in shape. Heavy weight tomatoes are always preferable.

• The best rule while buying tomato is to ‘use your nose’. Always smell the tomato blossom instead of stem. Tomato with intense aroma will always be more flavorful.

• Taut skin and bright color are the signs of the freshness of tomato.

• Tomatoes should never be stored in refrigerator as it may damage the flavor and flesh of tomato.

• Excess tomatoes can be chilled or canned.

• Leftover tomato dishes can also be frozen or refrigerated for not more than 2-3 days.

Types of Tomato

• Beef tomato – This is the largest variety of tomato that makes them ideal for stuffing and slicing.

• Vine ripened tomato – These tomatoes are ripened better on vine and further packed. Ideal for salads and roasting.

• Cherry tomato – Very small in size and often eaten as snacks.

• Plum tomato – Egg-shaped tomatoes with concentrated flavor and moist meaty flesh. Ideal for making gravy tomato dishes.

• Sungold tomato – These oranges are similar in size like cherry tomatoes but orange in color. Ideal for garnishing purposes.

Tomato Trivia

• The official drink of Ohio is tomato juice.

• 78% favorite recipes of Americans include tomato.