The Sticky Files - Marisca Bakker

The wonders of tomatoes (plus a recipe)

Marisca looks to her greenhouse for ways to save money at the grocery store

This year I had some good luck and bad luck in my greenhouse. I’ve learned that I can grow kale, zucchinis and cherry tomatoes. But that is it.

My jalapeno plant is just starting to bloom now and my lettuce was attacked by aphids. My honeydew plant got a lot of flowers but nothing happened. Next year I’ll probably just stick to what I know I can grow.

I am happy to be getting a lot of tomatoes, though. Like everything else, the price of tomatoes has gone up.

Inflation and climate change and the high fuel prices are all to blame for the increase in prices.

Tomatoes are the base of everything delicious: pizza, pasta, soup, salsa and of course, ketchup. I have a love/hate relationship with ketchup, I don’t like it but my children love it.

I should try making my own ketchup with all the tomatoes I have. But if fresh tomatoes are increasing in price now, our favourite things made from tomatoes will be going up soon. What goes up does not necessarily come back down anymore.

I feel tomatoes are so underrated and deserve more credit. The fruit, yes, it is a fruit, is so versatile and delicious.

Tomatoes are classified as fruit because they contain seeds and grow from the flower of the tomato plant. There are more than 10,000 varieties of tomatoes.

Did you know the tomato is a native of the lower Andes, cultivated by the Aztecs in Mexico. The Aztec word ‘tomatl’ meant simply “plump fruit” and the Spanish conquerors called it “tomate”

Not only are they yummy to eat, they are also extremely healthy.

Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene available to us naturally. It is what gives red and pink fruits their colour. Tomatoes, watermelons and papayas are all coloured with lycopene.

Lycopene is a very powerful antioxidant which is important for the health of the prostate gland in men and there are some studies that have shown lycopene can reduce and protect against certain types of cancer.

Tomatoes are also a good source of potassium, which is linked with lowering elevated blood pressure in the body. What can’t a tomato do?

My favourite tomato recipe is a Three Tomato Pasta sauce. It is a great way to use up all those cherry tomatoes.

Ingredients:

1 package spaghetti

2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato oil (from oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 can tomato sauce

1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

Step 1

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of tomato oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed red pepper; cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer gently over medium, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes; simmer until soft, 10 minutes.

Step 3

Add tomato mixture to the pasta; season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediatly.