There’s so much hype surrounding healthy eating that, sometimes, it can be hard to see the wood for the trees. Take the humble tomato, arguably one of the most popular plant-based foods in the western diet, but what if you could give their nutrition a major boost just by tweaking the way you select, store and cook them?
For instance, have you ever noticed how cooked tomatoes almost indelibly stain plastic containers, but chopped fresh tomatoes don’t? This is because as little as 30 minutes bubbling on the stove can more than double the amount of bright red lycopene available in the fruit.
Add a splash of olive oil and that health-boosting phytonutrient is even more readily absorbed − a study by a team at the University of Barcelona found that enriching tomato sauce with olive oil actually boosted the absorption of potentially heart-healthy polyphenols.
Oh and never, ever, keep tomatoes in the fridge. When stored at 10°C or higher, not only are tomatoes more nutritious, they become richer in colour, more aromatic and tastier to boot!
This is probably the simplest tomato sauce known to man – no peeling, chopping or simmering involved, just pure knock-out flavour. Plus, roasting tomatoes gives a richer flavour and enhanced nutrition. It also freezes beautifully so you can keep a stash in the freezer, making it a handy standby for super-healthy fast food – check out the book for a whole host of other tasty ideas!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
1kg cherry tomatoes
1 large onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
100g toasted flaked almonds
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
Small handful of basil leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.
Toss together all the ingredients except the basil in a roasting tin and roast for 40 minutes.
Stir the basil through the tomatoes to combine.
Fun fact: Weight for weight, concentrated tomato purée is up to a whopping 16 times richer in lycopene than fresh tomatoes.
Give green a go
Heirloom tomatoes like Green Zebra, which keep their verdant stripes even when ripe, are some of the tastiest around. Even unripe tomatoes can be delicious fried, in salsas and simmered into chutneys, plus they add a splash of cheerful colour to your plate.