To-may-toh, to-mah-toe…however you pronounce it, we’re letting tomatoes take center stage for this post. Here’s how to help this summer fruit (yup, it’s a fruit, we said it) shine in any recipe.

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Tomato season is here and it’s the perfect time to get your kids helping you in the kitchen as you process piles of rosy tomatoes into sauce, salsa, salads and even cake. Cake? Hold that thought—before we get into all the different ways to use tomatoes, let’s talk about the absolute easiest ways to enjoy them, short of just popping them straight into your mouth.

If you have a child that loves to read, please make August your month to try making easy tomato sandwiches inspired by Louise Fitzhugh’s classic novel Harriet The Spy—or for younger children, read the Charlie and Lola book I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato (Lauren Child) and enjoy some “moon squirters” as you do so.

Ready for something slightly fancier? Raw tomatoes pack a lot of vitamin C, and benefit from just a little oil, salt and herbs or garlic to balance out their acidity. In fact, oil, salt and tomatoes form the basis of most salsas and kids can easily make fantastic salsas by themselves—this recipe from our community comes with knife skills tips for beginner chefs, and this mango salsa variation is fantastic on fish tacos. For hot days, cool everyone down with gazpacho (a classic cold tomato soup from Spain made using a blender)—or leave the oil, salt and herbs on your tomatoes a little longer and get inspired by these simple and delicious meal ideas that use marinated tomatoes.

Once you’ve taken the edge off of everyone’s hunger, it’s time to get down to the real cooking: now is your prime time to make pasta sauce. Tuscan-style tomato sauce and Pat’s Tuesday Night pasta saucefrom our community are both great recipes to get your family started with homemade sauce. If your family leans more pizza than pasta, roasted cherry tomatoes make a terrific topping for homemade pizza.

To preserve that peak summer freshness, it’s worth it to recruit some helpers and can your own tomatoes, or freeze your own tomato sauce. If you’ve been trying to grow your own but you’re faced with green tomatoes, don’t worry—you can try a few tricks to ripen them—or you can also leave them as-is and follow this guide to preserving green tomatoes.

To end your meal, surprise everyone with a different way to cook with tomatoes: tomato cake. Cake? Well, scientifically speaking, tomatoes are a fruit (they come from a flower, and they contain seeds). Tomato cake (and “Mystery Cake” or tomato soup cake) was developed during the Depression years of the 1930’s, and when you have that context, using tomatoes makes sense as a way to stretch precious food—they act much like applesauce would in a cake, helping you use fewer eggs and less butter, which were both expensive ingredients at the time. Whether you’re using green tomatoes or red ones, you’ll notice that tomato-based cakes don’t taste like tomato—more like spiced apple cake.

If you’d like more help planning nutritious recipes and meals the family will love, set up an appointment with the dietitian today!

This blog content was provided by Better Together BC.