Fresh Fridays
August 21, 2015
Vol. VII No. 17
Heirloom Tomatoes
In This Issue
New World Tomatoes
Meet the Old World Med Diet

There is nothing quite like the taste of a ripe summer tomato fresh from the garden. Tomatoes turn the end of summer into a time of year to look forward to, with hundreds of heirloom varieties (grown for 50 years or more) available in a beautiful range of colors and flavors. Countless Mediterranean dishes harness their flavor perfectly, from Tunisian shakshouka to French tomates à la Provençale to Spanish gazpacho. What would pasta or pizza be without them? The tomato may seem like the lifeblood of the Mediterranean diet. 

It wasn't always this way, however. Tomatoes are native to Latin America, specifically Peru, where they were used for centuries in stews and sauces before Europeans arrived. Conquistadors brought them across the Atlantic to Spain in the 1500s, but they were not accepted right away. Europeans were suspicious of foods introduced to them from the New World, and they feared tomatoes were toxic and unhealthy. 

Italians played it safe by growing tomatoes as decorative plants at first. They named the plant pomo d'oro or "golden apple," evidence that the first tomatoes in Europe were yellow. Only once the French named it the "apple of love" did it start to become more popular. The French pomme d'amour is either a mistranslation of the Italian, or was coined by a French explorer in honor of his lover. The name led to the belief that tomatoes were powerful aphrodisiacs, which of course made them a highly desirable food. 

Mediterranean chefs started experimenting with tomatoes in traditional Old World dishes, cooking them for long periods of time at first to get the "toxins" out and later appreciating their full flavor by using them fresh. Once commoners discovered tomato plants were easy to grow in the Mediterranean climate, they bred them into numerous varieties, and tomatoes quickly transformed the cuisine. Tomato sauce was first combined with pasta in Italy in the 1700s, and the rest is history. 

Check out our 12 Great Ways to Use Tomatoes in your diet. Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and vitamin A, and are good sources of potassium. They are also rich in carotenoids, an antioxidant group that may help protect against cancer. You may have heard of lycopene, a type of carotenoid present in red, yellow, and orange tomatoes. Incidentally, eating tomatoes (raw or cooked) with olive oil has been shown to increase the body's absorption of lycopene. Yet another benefit of eating the Mediterranean way!

Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe. 
Tomato Stuffed with Quinoa

This protein-packed meatless entrée is perfect (and impressive looking!) for lunch or on a buffet. The quinoa stuffing is also terrific in hollowed out cucumber or zucchini, served on lettuce leaves, or on its own. 

Recipe and photo courtesy of The Peanut Institute.

Tomato Stuffed Chicken

This juicy chicken dish combines classic Mediterranean ingredients like mozzarella cheese, Kalamata olives, and extra virgin olive oil with sun dried tomatoes for incredible flavor. Serve it with a light salad for dinner.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Bella Sun Luci


Ratatouille is a classic dish that differs at the hand of every cook. Toss it with pasta, serve under a grilled fish fillet or as an appetizer with plenty of bread, salty olives, aioli and glasses of red wine.

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be. 

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        





Let the old ways be your guide to good health and well-being.       



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The Heirloom Tomato
by Amy Goldman
Every year, renowned grower Amy Goldman produces an amazing 500 varieties of tomatoes on her farm in New York's Hudson Valley. Here, in 250 gorgeous photos and Goldman's charming prose, is the cream of the crop, from glorious heirloom beefsteaks to exotica like the currant tomato. Along with the photos are profiles of the tomatoes, filled with fascinating facts on their history and provenance.

Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts
by Aglaia Kremezi
In Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, Aglaia Kremezi, who introduced Greek cooking to an American audience, has gone back to her roots, rediscovering the delicious, fresh, healthy, easy-to-make recipes she grew up with. Kremezi's arsenal of master recipes for spice, nut, and herb mixtures, sauces, jams, and pastes inspired by eastern Mediterranean and north African traditions will transform even the most humble vegetable or grain into an irresistible dish.

Tomatoes 50 Easy Recipes
by Academia Barilla
The emperor of the garden, the staple of the kitchen: behold the proud tomato! This lavishly illustrated book, cleverly shaped like a ripe tomato, features 50 recipes assembled by Academia Barilla showcasing the wide range of this healthy, versatile fruit.