Tomato season is here!

Photo by John Morgan https://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/2878315446/

Photo by John Morgan https://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/2878315446/

What is your favorite part of summer? Is it warm weather? Longer days? School vacation?

 

One of the things I look forward to is tomato season!

 

In North Carolina local tomatoes are available from June through October, so you have five months to enjoy the juiciest and most delicious tomatoes of the year.

 

Tomatoes are versatile fruits and can be used in a variety of recipes from salads to sandwiches to soups. They are also very easy to grow, so you don’t need to be a seasoned gardener. Did you know that you can use your FNS/SNAP benefits to buy seeds and plants that produce food? Tomatoes are a great addition to any garden!*

 

Many grocery stores will sell locally grown tomatoes in the summer, but you’ll also find tomatoes available at your local farmers’ market. When purchased in season, produce tends to cost less, helping you stretch your food budget. North Carolina Cooperative Extension is a great resource for gardening information.

 

If you haven’t visited a farmers’ market, summer is a great time to visit. You can talk with the farmer that grew your produce and you may have opportunities to taste the different varieties of tomatoes. Many farmers’ markets accept FNS/SNAP benefits* and some even offer “double bucks” incentive programs, which is a great way to maximize your SNAP benefits.

 

Below is a recipe for roasted tomatoes with herbs. This is a simple side dish that costs less than $1 per serving. To find other budget-friendly recipes using tomatoes check out the USDA’s What’s Cooking Mixing Bowl.

 

Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs

Cook time: 40 minutes

Makes: 6 servings

Total Cost: $5.55

Serving Cost: $0.93

 

Ingredients

 

Cooking oil spray, as needed (non-stick)

6 tomatoes (washed)

2 tablespoons olive oil (or canola oil)

1⁄2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon garlic (minced)

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

 

Directions

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking oil spray.
  3. Cut each tomato in half. Place tomatoes on the sheet, cut side up.
  4. Drizzle tomatoes with ½ of the oil and season with pepper.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are beginning to brown on the bottom.
  6. Mix the remaining oil, parsley, garlic, and cheese in a small bowl.
  7. Remove tomatoes from the oven and sprinkle the herb mixture over the tomatoes.
  8. Return to oven for another 10 minutes, or until spices begin to brown.

 

Maryland Food Supplement Nutrition Education program, 2009 Recipe Calendar

 

 

* To find out if your farmers’ market accepts FNS/SNAP benefits, you can use the USDA’s Farmers’ Market search tool and select “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)” under payment options.