Food & Nutrition
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Healthy Tomato Recipes for the True Tennessean

sliced tomato

Any state that designates the tomato as its official state fruit must have some serious love for these summer beauties. Tennessee is one of those states, with many of its residents happy to vouch for some of their favorite tomato recipes, given half a chance.

Apart from being versatile and delicious, tomatoes are packed with vitamins A and C, as well as lycopene, which may serve to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. It’s all the more reason to try some of these delicious Tennessee-inspired tomato recipes.

Ham It Up

We’ve all been to Italian restaurants that start the meal with a few pieces of bruschetta-topped baguette. Taking inspiration from Italy, this recipe uses shaved country ham to boost the flavor without additional salt. This clever twist has an additional benefit in that it doesn’t draw out all of the tomato liquid, keeping your baguette rounds just as crispy as you like them.

Starting with a couple of freshly diced tomatoes (make sure you have a sharp knife to avoid excessive pressure), add some classic Italian flavor with minced garlic, shredded basil, olive oil and a few spoons of balsamic vinegar for sweetness and balance. Hit your bruschetta mix with some black pepper just before giving it a brief stir, then grab your baguette toasts and layer some ham on each. In addition to adding great flavor, the ham prevents the bread from absorbing too much liquid from the tomato mixture, which you’ll generously dollop on top. Eat immediately. (As if you could even wait!)

Southern Flavor All The Way

Few things speak to southern cooking as much as okra — and at the same time, few things are more divisive than this little green vegetable. This tomato recipe not only helps to create a full-flavored salad, it also avoids creating the slimy quality that can give okra a bad name. The key is to give the okra a quick rinse and then ensure they are patted dry before cooking them.

Sauté in olive oil and butter over high heat, just long enough for them to turn bright green. Once the okra is done, simply toss in some minced garlic and then add the mixture into the tomato, balsamic and basil salad you’ve prepared in advance. The warmth of the okra helps release a delicious garlicky scent while the tomato wedges add a meaty texture to every bite.

Waste Not, Want Not!

Cooler fall weather brings with it the joys of green tomatoes. There are numerous ways to get the most out of the fruits that haven’t had a chance to ripen, and pickled green tomatoes are a healthier variation of the traditionally fried ones. They also provide a nice, tart side as our main dishes become heartier with the colder weather.

Pickling is fairly straightforward. After you’ve cut your tomatoes into wedges, pack them tightly into jars along with garlic and dill (or your favorite herb alternative). All that’s left is to make your pickling liquid. While this one is a classic combination of vinegar, water, salt, sugar and peppercorns, it gets a southern kick from a little splash of bourbon. Pour your liquid over the tomatoes and refrigerate — it’s as simple as it is mouth-puckeringly good!

Mary Luz Mejia

Mary Luz Mejia

Mary Luz Mejia is a NATJA nominated freelance food/travel journalist, Gemini-nominated former food TV producer and food communications professional. When not on the road, you’ll find her testing and developing recipes or in front of her laptop. You can read some of her work here and follow her culinary escapades @MaryLuzOnFood.

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Mary Luz Mejia

Mary Luz Mejia is a NATJA nominated freelance food/travel journalist, Gemini-nominated former food TV producer and food communications professional. When not on the road, you’ll find her testing and developing recipes or in front of her laptop. You can read some of her work here and follow her culinary escapades @MaryLuzOnFood.

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