We are back where it all began: the tomato. Three years ago Island Grown Schools started a Harvest of the Month program to highlight a locally available crop each month of the year in school cafeterias, restaurants, and grocery stores. The goal is to help children, their caregivers, and the broader community learn more about healthy, seasonal, whole-foods eating while supporting local farms.
The first-ever crop we featured was the tomato, the late-summer treasure of the garden and farmer’s market. From extra-sweet little cherry tomatoes, to multicolored heirlooms, to large slicing tomatoes, there are so many different types to try. Full of antioxidants, lycopene, and vitamins A and C, these sweet fruits are a healthy treat. This month in the schools we brought in different types of tomatoes to try with students. Children as young as 2 years old were voting for their favorite tomato, usually the Sungold cherry.
There are so many ways to incorporate fresh local tomatoes into your cooking. They are a great staple for making many different types of salsas and sauces, and for adding to soups. Fresh chopped tomatoes can be used for kabobs with cheese and cucumber, or can be tossed with basil and balsamic for an instant side dish. Visit a local farm stand or the farmers’ market to pick up a variety of different tomatoes, try each one, and decide which is your favorite.
Have a bumper crop of tomatoes? Try making this Slow Roasted Tomato recipe by Harvest of the Month chef Robin Forte.
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
3 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
A sprig or two of fresh thyme leaves, picked and finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Put tomatoes cut-side up on a large four-sided sheet pan. Sprinkle tomatoes with the minced garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Season lightly with salt and ground black pepper. Roast in the oven 6 to 8 hours. Cool. Will store in a sealed container in the fridge for 2 weeks.
Emily Duncker is the preschool coordinator for Island Grown Schools. IGS works with nearly every school-age child on the Island, ages 2 through 18, to empower them to make healthy eating choices, learn to grow food, and connect with local farms. For more information, visit islandgrownschools.org.