tomato growing on vines

It’s Tomato Time: Chicken with Tomatoes, Ginger, and Peppers Recipe

chickken-rice-tomato
CHICKEN WITH TOMATOES, GINGER & PEPPERS

3 butterflied boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 large can San Marzano stewed tomatoes in juice

1 tbsp. diced fresh ginger

2-3 cloves diced garlic

1 jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and diced

2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Dash of cayenne pepper

Fresh, chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Accompaniment: 2 cups cooked rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat non stick pan over medium high heat.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

Pour 2 tbsp. olive oil in pan.

Add seasoned chicken breasts, cook on medium-high heat 4 minutes each side, or until both sides are browned.

When both sides are browned, remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Add 1 tsp. olive oil to pan.

Add garlic and ginger, cook for about 1-2 minutes, until softened, on medium high heat.

Add diced roasted peppers.

Cook another 1-2 minutes.

Add tomato juice from can of stewed tomatoes and deglaze pan.

Add chicken breasts back to pan.

Cook over low heat while dicing the stewed tomatoes.

Add diced, stewed tomatoes to pan and finish off in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until internal temp reads 165 degrees.

When chicken is fully cooked, remove breasts from pan to rest.

Add rice to soak up the pan sauce, mixing well.

Scoop rice onto serving platter, then chicken atop the rice.

Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley.

Bon apetit…bon nuit!

tomato growing on vines
tomato growing on vines

Look – there they are. In that densely lush, green bush of vines are the finest tomatoes of the season. An orange one right next to a green one. A teardrop next to a heart-shape. A purple heirloom beside the reddest Roma. They’re begging to be picked, they’re tender enough to capture a fingerprint. The food that dreams are made of. They inspire songs. They’re the Sophia Loren of the culinary world. And beyond taste is an array of health benefits. Everyone knows the tomato is good for you, but how good for you, exactly?

Firstly, they are simple and fun to grow. A tomato plant is rewarding and reliable. My daughter Zoë and I plant a new tomato plant every year on Mother’s Day, a culinary tradition. This year it was a Black Prince tomato plant. And the varieties are endless. Tomatoes are cultivated easily, making them interchangeable and one of the most recognizable, powerful flavors in the food kingdom. Tomatoes deserve respect – I’m talking about drizzling them with first, cold-pressed olive oil and aged, quality vinegar. I mean slow-roasting in an oven with whacked garlic cloves and grey salt. They definitely deserve nothing less than ripening on the vine or growing in the backyard, whatever cultivar you choose.

These days, you’ll find tomatoes in more than soups, salads and sauces. Do an internet search on tomato gelato, tomato sorbet or candied tomatoes. With their high sugar content, this fruit can be dessert, intermezzo, or a palate cleanser, as well as any other course of the meal. With all of the health benefits, it’s a shame to limit the tomato to appetizers and entrees. Make some tomato ice cream – why not? I can think of some things I ate in college that would make a tomato blush (or shake her head disapprovingly).

Then there is melatonin, a hormone produced primarily in the brain that is linked to serotonin, repair of cells and your sleep cycle – also found in tomatoes. Besides being optimistic, dependable and tasty, tomatoes can help you get a good night’s sleep and keep you happy. This is why I cook with tomatoes every season of the year, just about every night of the week. I always have fresh tomatoes on my kitchen counter, canned organic tomatoes in my pantry, and imaginary tomatoes stirring in my head giving me ideas for our next family meal.

Lycopene has also created a lot of buzz for the tomato. Lycopene is an antioxidant that has been studied for its possible ability to prevent certain types of cancer, macular degeneration and other diseases. Better news is, when tomatoes are heat-processed, the lycopene amount increases. So load up on spaghetti and marinara, tomato soup and grilled cheese, everyone. Those carbs can combat cancer.

Lastly, it should be no surprise that with these anti-oxidants, tomato is beneficial for the skin. I have seen tomato as the main ingredient in facial soap and toner – claiming to be good at balancing out the skin’s pH level. I haven’t tried the soap, but I know tomato juice can de-stench a stinky pet that had a run-in with a skunk. Not such a glamorous trait of the glorious fruit, but the multi-tasking status is undeniable. When I’m confident there are no critters around, I may pair the tomato juice with another beverage that derives from a potato, but that’s another column.

It is no mystery why the world is drawn to tomatoes. A botanical sure thing, a rock star from appetizer to dessert, sleep aid, disease fighter, and skin refresher. All that and flavor, too.

The recipe on the sidebar combines not only tomatoes but ginger and rice, all high in melatonin. The food that delicious dreams are made.