Whether you call them "to-may-toes" or "to-mah-toes," they're the world's most popular fruit. (Yes, we said "fruit.") And of the nearly 10,000 varieties of the favored food, cherry tomatoes are one of the mostly widely eaten groups.
Because of their small size, cherry tomatoes are perfectly suited for salads, as well as most other recipes calling for tomatoes. And they contain the same health benefits as their larger, plumper cousins: They're high in vitamins A and C and filled with the cancer-fighting compound lycopene. Cherry tomatoes are also a low-calorie, no-fat food with beneficial amounts of fiber, iron, potassium and folic acid. Add these health benefits to your menu with the following nutritious recipes.
This recipe is about as easy as they come. Plus, it's low fat and fun for kids. Cherry tomato pops combine three simple ingredients: cherry tomatoes, skim-milk mozzarella string cheese and fat-free ranch dressing. You simply slice the string cheese in half, lengthwise, and trim up the cherry tomatoes by cutting the stem and gently squeezing out the pulp and seeds. You then insert the string cheese into the hollowed-out tomato and there's your pop -- a magic wand-like snack you can eat as is or dip into the ranch dressing.
Our next cherry tomato recipe is a little more grown-up.
What makes a better finger food than cherry tomatoes? They're the perfect size for picking up and popping in your mouth. It's almost as if Mother Nature wanted them served at parties. For a great appetizer, try these herbed stuffed tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes will be tiny bowls filled with low-fat cottage cheese and savory herbs. Just cut the ends off of the tomatoes, scoop out the pulp and seeds and fill them with a cottage cheese mixture that includes green onions, chervil, dill and lemon pepper.
Note that cottage cheese isn't necessarily low in fat unless it's 0.5 percent, 1 or 2 percent. For this recipe, we recommend 1-percent cottage cheese for the filling.
A bowl of green beans is a fairly popular vegetable side dish, but why not make it a little more interesting by adding cherry tomatoes? Sautéed green beans and cherry tomatoes can be prepared all in one pan. Just sear the green beans with extra virgin olive oil in a skillet and then cook with added water for a few minutes. You'll then add the cherry tomatoes, garlic and more olive oil, and cook a little longer. To complete this low-calorie recipe, remove the skillet from the heat and stir in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Your family will be pleasantly surprised with this Mediterranean-style twist on traditional green beans.
Keep reading to learn about a salad filled with cherry tomatoes
The cherry tomato often stars in salads. Because of its bite size, there's little to no slicing required -- and almost never any dicing. In this marinated tomato salad, tomatoes are the main feature, so you will slice the cherry tomatoes in half across the middle. You will also slice pear tomatoes (vertically). After this simple prep, add the tomatoes to a marinade of tarragon or white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, shallots, chives, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, and then toss. The result is a colorful, simple-to-prepare salad brimming with nutritious tomatoes and heart-healthy olive oil.
Our final recipe will demonstrate just how perfectly tomatoes go with Italian cuisine.
Tomatoes seem to be synonymous with Italian food, whether it's in sauces, on pizzas or covering bread. This slow-roasted cherry tomato bruschetta offers a slightly different take on a classic Italian appetizer. Typically, bruschetta is made with fresh raw tomatoes, but this recipe will have you roast the tomatoes first in order to bring out their sweetness.
Roasting does add an extra step to your bruschetta prep, but it is quite simple. Simply toss the cherry tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, then roast them on a baking sheet for 45 to 55 minutes. Once you've roasted the tomatoes, you'll add the crucial basil as well as red wine vinegar and spread the whole mix over a baguette slice.
Can't get enough of tomatoes? Keep reading for lots more information and recipes on the juicy fruit.
Raw milk is blamed for foodborne illnesses across the U.S., and is illegal to sell in several. But is it warranted? HowStuffWorks looks at raw milk.
- American Cancer Society. "Lycopene." (Nov. 5, 2010) http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/DietandNutrition/lycopene
- BBC. "Tomato ingredients fight cancer." Nov. 5, 2003. (Nov. 5, 2010)http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3239483.stm
- FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov. "Vegetable of the Month: Tomato." (Nov. 5, 2010)http://www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov/month/tomato.html
- Iowa Department of Public Health. "Featured Fruit: Tomato." (Nov. 5, 2010)http://www.idph.state.ia.us/pickabettersnack/common/pdf/factsheets/tomato.pdf
- Mayo Clinic. "Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option." June 19, 2010. (Nov. 5, 2010)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011
- Penn State. "Tomatoes and Cancer." 2004. (Nov. 5, 2010)http://extension.psu.edu/HealthWellness/tomato/TOMATOfactsht.pdf
- Pennsylvania Nutrition. "What's so great about tomatoes?" (Nov. 5, 2010)http://www.panen.org/sites/default/files/SNAC%20Materials/Tomato_Newsletter2.pdf