Watching my tomatoes hanging in bunches on the vines is one of the my treasured moments on the farm. It appears I am not the only one who has a love affair with my tomatoes. Every year there is a Tomato Festival in Sydney that celebrates the wonderful tomato!
According to a Science Daily article organic tomato juice contains more phenolic components than juice from conventionally grown crops. If you are growing your own at home, keep away from chemical sprays and fertilizers and you will get a crop that will be more beneficial to your health.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene
Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. Doctors are only just starting to discover how lycopene can help slow down or prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer as well as degenerative conditions associated with aging.
Lycopene is not manufactured by the body and is obtained only from food of the carotenoid family which are of bright colours such as yellow, orange and red.
Tomatoes aid in healthy eyesight and bones
It is also rich in Vitamin A and K beneficial for good eyesight and bones.
Stuffed tomatoes need to be chunky
I have chosen Polish heirloom tomatoes to make stuffed tomatoes as they are chunky and have fewer seeds.
Except for the pumpkin that needs to be steamed this is a raw dish. You want to ensure your tomatoes are ripe but not too ripe with the skin still firm so that even when you don’t cook it, your stuffed tomatoes will be easy to cut with a knife and fork or just bite them like you would an apple. It should be firm enough that you won’t create a mess with watery juice all over your hands and plate as what little juice in the tomato will be absorbed by the stuffing.
(Makes 10 servings of tomatoes with each weighing 210 – 260 gms)
Polish heirloom or any chunky tomato with a hardy skin
1 cup barley grains
300 gm pumpkin, steamed
1 1/2 cup and 3 tbsp coconut cream
1 tsp paprika
3 tbsp basil leaves, finely chopped
1 slice of toasted bread
salt to taste
- Soak the barley for at least 7 – 8 hours. You can soak it longer if you would like it sprouted but be sure to change the water after 7 hours as the barley could start to spoil if left too long in the same water
- Steam the pumpkin until it is soft. Let it cool down. Then add coconut cream to the pumpkin as you are mashing it so the cream will be thoroughly mixed into the pumpkin.
- Drain the barley in a sieve to discard the water in which it has been soaking. Add this now soft barley grains to the pumpkin and coconut cream mixture and stir well. Add basil leaves, paprika and salt.
- .If you find the barley still hard you will need to soak it for longer, but ensure you use fresh water
I use rye bread because rye gets a little sticky when it comes in contact with water
- Toast a slice of bread till slightly crisp and then let it soak in 3 tbsp of coconut cream while you are stuffing the tomatoes. I like to use rye bread because rye gets a little sticky when it comes in contact with water. Also because it is a little harder in texture.
Fill the tomatoes
- Slice the top of the tomato off. Scoop out the centre with a teaspoon. This is another reason you want it red and ripe as it will be easier to scoop out the contents of the tomato
- If you have chickens you can give them the scooped out content of the tomato. Mine love tomatoes. If you don’t then keep aside to put through your juicing machine next time you make juice.
- Take the pumpkin barley mix and stuff into the now hollow tomatoes one by one.
- Don’t worry if your tomatoes don’t stand upright. I’ll be surprised if they do. Your stuffing should be the consistency of thick paste so that they won’t run out even if your tomato is lying on its side.
- Finally seal the top with the soaked bread. It is best to leave the tomatoes for an hour or two before serving as this will give them time to absorb the delicate flavour of the stuffing and for the walls of the stuff tomato to soften a little so that it is easier to cut or bite into. Your bread too would have hardened by then.