I say tomato, you say…let’s just get food in our stomachs already, folks.
Pick up a bag-full at the farmers market recently or a basket at the grocery store? ‘Tis the season! Here are five fast and fantastic appetizer ideas from healthy chefs for that batch of cherry tomatoes perched on your counter that will help you slim down this summer. (If you’re a total tomato fiend, then you probably want to check out this recipe for Vegan Chilled Tomato Soup with Guacamole).
1. Pesto-stuffed Cherry Tomatoes
Executive Chef Karla Williams (who also holds a BA in nutrition science) of Hilton Head Health, a weight loss and wellness resort in South Carolina, explains why she loves to pop these tiny bursts of swoon-worthy flavor: “The classic combination of basil and cherry tomatoes is a crowd pleaser! This recipe is packed full of flavor and nutrition! Basil is a mini vegetable and it happens to pair perfectly with sweet juicy tomatoes.” To make these tempting bites, simply combine olive oil, basil, a handful of parm (or if you want to keep it vegan, try nutrient-packed miso paste) and some fresh lemon juice. Cut each cherry tomato in half and scoop out insides to replace with a dollop of pesto. “Serve cold or roast ‘em. Entertaining? This recipe freezes well! When it’s party time, just spread out the frozen tomatoes on a sheet tray and roast at 375 degrees for 8–10 minutes,” advises Williams. (Love pesto but shooting for a paleo twist? We’ve got you covered with this Plant-Based Paleo Pesto).
2. Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad
This is the perfect snack for a hot day. “It’s quick and easy to make, plus it’s healthy thanks to all the nutrients in cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes have lycopene (good for your skin), lots of calcium, and vitamin K, which is good for your bones and bone tissue. They have antioxidants like vitamin A and C, which promote healthy blood, shiny hair, and istrong teeth. Tomatoes also neutralize free radicals in your blood,” offers Chef Patton Robertson of Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar and Shelby Hall (opening fall 2015) in Dallas. And don’t worry — it only sounds fancy. Prep is a snap — this is one seriously easy cherry tomato recipe. Simply gather up nutritious, wholesome ingredients: halved cherry tomatoes, fresh oregano, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and sugar in the raw. Dissolve the sugar in the oil and vinegar, toss all ingredients together, chill for two hours, and serve.
3. Tomato Toast
Avocado toast, meet your match! Chef Kevin Korman of Caliza in Alys Beach, FL has this taste bud-electrifying option on his seasonal menu, and folks can’t get enough of it. In-house, for one of their biggest tiny tomato hits, they spread whipped feta on housemade black bread, then top it with a variety of tomatoes prepared in different ways. Some raw, some roasted, some pickled, and some puréed. They then allow the delectable tomato medley to dance in a blanket of pesto, dried olives, and micro basil. At home, try simplifying it by grabbing any good quality loaf, adding a thin blanket of pesto, halved cherry tomatoes marinated in a little olive oil and vinegar (Korman’s pick is sherry vinegar), some fresh peppery arugula, some crumbled feta, sprinkle of sea salt, and a few cranks of fresh black pepper. There’s good reason chefs love these little guys for more than just Garnish Patrol: “We tend to use a lot of tomatoes when they are in season. I actually prefer a good organic cherry tomato over the trendy heirloom variety that are sold in stores. Cherry tomatoes are a good source of lycopene, which is believed to be beneficial in cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. They are also a good source of B6 and vitamin A,” he says.
4. Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
“Garlic, basil, and tomatoes … need we say more?” Nope, no you needn’t. “Bring out the sweet delicate flavors of a perfectly ripened tomato by roasting them. This simple and light method is healthy and satisfying to the palate. Add aged balsamic vinegar for a nice zip,” shares Williams. You can serve this as-is, but we love to top it with salty anchovies, brimming with omega-3s and eight grams of protein in just one ounce for a more satisfying snack.
Still hungry? Snack on…