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Experience a World of Great Taste with Fresh Florida Tomatoes

Experience a World of Great Taste with Fresh Florida Tomatoes

Congratulations!  You’ve made it through yet another fierce winter.  It’s time to lighten up.  It’s the perfect time to celebrate the arrival of spring with the lively, vibrant taste of a globally inspired salad featuring field-grown tomatoes from the sun.

Mediterranean cuisine embraces a wide range of regional variations, all of which are characterized by delicious ingredients.  You can evoke the robust flavors of North Africa with our Moroccan-Style Tomato, Shrimp and Couscous Salad.  This easy-to-make dish features a luscious mixture of shrimp, feta cheese, sweet pepper and fully ripened tomatoes atop a fluffy mound of couscous, the semolina pasta that is one of the staple foods of North Africa.  Or, for an alternative take on the Mediterranean experience, try Antipasto Chef Salad, which showcases salami, Provolone cheese, artichoke hearts, black olives, crispy Romaine and fresh, juicy tomatoes.

If you’re interested in a more exotic option, take a gustatory tour of the Far East with our Asian-Inspired Chicken, Tomato and Noodle Salad.  Finished with sesame-ginger dressing, this quick and simple palate-pleaser features ramen or soba noodles, chicken breasts, snow peas, lettuce leaves and fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes.

Whatever your pleasure, you can enjoy fresh tomatoes in your salad today!  Most of the fresh, field-grown tomatoes you’ll find in your supermarket now come from Florida, with peak production and flavor in April and May.

When you bring tomatoes home from the store, remember to ripen them further at room temperature, away from sunlight.  Once you refrigerate them, you stop the ripening process, preventing the full, sweet flavor from developing.  For faster ripening, try placing the tomatoes in a brown paper bag or in a bowl with other fruits.
Besides their winning flavor and versatility in any dish or cuisine type, tomatoes are a powerhouse of nutrients.  A medium tomato has only 25 calories, is high in vitamin C, a good source of vitamin A, low in sodium and cholesterol-free.  Low fat diets rich in fruits and vegetables (foods that are low in fat and may contain dietary fiber, Vitamin A, or Vitamin C) may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, a disease associated with many factors.  Furthermore, vitamin A promotes good vision and helps to form and maintain healthy teeth and skin. Vitamin C plays an important role in maintaining body tissues and healing wounds and is also an antioxidant. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals which are unstable molecules linked to the development of a number of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease and other age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.  In addition, Florida tomatoes contain lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their rich, red color.

For more information about the health benefits of tomatoes and great recipe ideas, visit
Prep: 10 minutes

1 cup couscous  
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces shelled, cooked shrimp 
2 large fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 sweet yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup prepared vinaigrette dressing, divided
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup sliced green onions (scallions)

Prepare couscous with 1 cup water according to package directions, seasoning with salt and pepper; cool. In a medium-sized bowl, combine shrimp, tomatoes, yellow pepper and 1/4 cup of the dressing.  To couscous, add feta, green onions and the remaining 1/4 cup dressing; mix gently.  Mound couscous mixture on 4 plates, dividing evenly; top with marinated tomato and shrimp mixture.

YIELD:  4 servings

Per Serving: 347 calories, 21 g protein, 45 g carbohydrate, 9 g fat,
913 mg sodium

Prep: 10 minutes

1 pound fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes, cut in
6 cups Romaine lettuce cut in 1/2-inch wide slices
6 ounces sliced Provolone cheese, cut into 3/4-inch   
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
   4 ounces thinly sliced salami, cut in halves
1/2 cup pitted black olives (preferably imported)
1/3 cup prepared Italian salad dressing

Divide the lettuce among 4 chilled salad plates. Arrange tomato wedges in a row down the center of each salad. Arrange the cheese, artichoke hearts, salami and olives on either side of the tomatoes, dividing evenly. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.

YIELD: 6 servings

Per Serving: 243 calories, 14 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 18 g fat, 969 mg sodium

Prep: 25 minutes

1 package (about 12 ounces) Asian noodles such as
  somen or soba or 1 pound package vermicelli
Sesame-Ginger Dressing (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 ounces snow peas
6 large Boston lettuce leaves
2 large, fully ripened fresh Florida tomatoes, cut in thin wedges

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.  Transfer noodles to a bowl; toss with half of the Sesame-Ginger Dressing.  In a skillet, over medium-high heat, heat oil until hot.  Add chicken; cook, turning often, until lightly browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Add snow peas; cook and stir until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; cool slightly; tear chicken in bite-sized pieces; return to skillet.  Stir remaining dressing into mixture.  To serve: On a large platter, arrange lettuce.  Top with noodles, fresh tomato wedges and chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, if desired.
YIELD: 4 servings

Sesame-Ginger Dressing:  In a small jar, combine 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup peanut oil, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil and 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce.  Add 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon  ground ginger.  Cover tightly; shake well.

YIELD: about 3/4 cup

Per Serving: 664 calories, 38 g protein, 81 g carbohydrate, 20 g fat,
1438 mg sodium