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MT 8 May 2016

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 8 MAY 2016 35 IT is native to Central America and was cultivated by the Aztecs centuries before the Spanish ex- plorers introduced it to the West- ern World. They were yellow coloured and about the size of a cherry tomato hence the name Pomo d'Oro (meaning yellow ap- ples). So, surprisingly, the tomato, which has become synonymous with Italy, is in fact, not indig- enous to Europe and many staple tomato-based Italian dishes did not in fact exist as we know them today. It is difficult to imagine a kitch- en without the use of tomatoes. They form the bases for millions of dishes throughout the world and are loved for their flavour, colour and versatility. But toma- toes were considered poisonous up until the 17th Century and in the US, it wasn't until 1820 that Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson who had brought the tomato to New Jersey and convinced the general public that this fruit may be consumed without causing any harm by announcing that he would eat an entire basket of to- matoes. A large crowd gathered to view this spectacle, expecting him to bend over and die before their eyes but instead were amazed that he had in fact survived this feat. Tomatoes like many other red variety fruits and vegetables are rich in lycopene, a flavonoid an- tioxidant which can help protect against certain cancers. Toma- toes are also rich in vitamin C (another antioxidant) - as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, potassium and iron. Fine food of the week Tasty tomatoes Food Ingredients • 2 tbsp olive oil • 1 onion, chopped • 2 clove garlic, minced • 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped • 4 cups fresh tomatoes, diced • 1 tbsp tomato paste • 1 tsp chilli powder • 1 tsp cumin seed • 1 tsp paprika • A pinch cayenne pepper • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste • 4 large eggs • ½ tbsp fresh parsley or coriander, finely chopped • 200g ricotta (optional) METHOD 1. Heat the olive oil in the pan. 2. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion be- gins to soften. 3. Add garlic and the bell pepper, fry gently for 5-7 mins over me- dium heat until vegetable are softened. 4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan and give a good stir. 5. Add spices and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 mins till it starts to re- duce. 6. Add the cumin seed and season according to taste. 7. Make a few indents in the sauce and crack the eggs, one at a time into the tomato mixture, mak- ing sure to space them evenly. 8. If using ricotta you may add some blobs at this stage in be- tween the eggs. 9. Cover the pan and cook for ap- prox. 10 mins making sure that the mixture does not dry out (add a little water if too dry). 10. Garnish with the chopped pars- ley or coriander. Notes Shakshuka can be eaten for break- fast, lunch, or dinner. Serve with a side salad and some warm pita bread Classic Tunisian dish This is the recipe for a classic shak- shuka (without the ricotta). How- ever there are many variations to this dish. Tunisian cooks added ar- tichoke hearts, potatoes and broad beans whilst the Spanish add a spicy sausage to the mixture. Shakshuka Recipe of the week These fluffy fritters, soaked in a syrup flavored with saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon, are a favorite Emirati dessert during Ramadan. PHOTOGRAPHY BY GABY HOLLAND Every fruit and vegetable has its fair share of health benefits, not least of these is the tomato. The tomato is a pulpy nutritious fruit commonly eaten as a vegetable and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals Fun Facts • There is a museum solely dedicated to the tomato in Parma, Italy. • In Spain and Italy they were know as pomo d'oro (meaning yellow apples) • Il Pomo d'Oro is an Opera by the Italian Comoser Antonio Cesti • One of the earliest tomato sauce recipes was penned by Paganini, the famous Italian composer and violinist. • Cooked tomatoes produce even more lycopene but the process destroys the Vitamin C • Adding tomatoes without seeds to your diet has been proven in some studies to reduce the risk of kidney stones. • A single tomato can provide about 40% of the daily vitamin C requirement • China is the number one producer of tomatoes around the world. The US is second • Tomatoes can relieve sunburn. Combine Fresh tomato pulp and yoghurt to soothe your skin

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