It’s that time of year when we grab the last bits of summer’s bounty and cook, bake, freeze and can the heck out of it.  Just this Saturday at the co-op and the farmers’ market, I bought two huge zucchinis, an eggplant and a giant yellow squash, just because they looked so darn good and because I know they won’t last long.  Snatch up as many of these babies as you can–we all know tomatoes in the winter just aren’t even close.

Eat What:

-As we all know, the tomato is really a fruit (because it is formed on flowering plants by the ovaries and is the means by which the plant disseminates seeds)

-The tomato is a perennial in its native habitat but an annual when grown outdoors

-Surprisingly, China produces most of the world’s tomato crop, followed by the United States

Eat When:

-Growing season is early May to early October

-Select firm, heavy tomatoes without blemishes

-Store in a cool, dry place stem-side down, BUT NOT THE FRIDGE (cold destroys the flavor and texture)

Eat Right:

-Click here for the USDA Nutrient Database for tomatoes, raw

-Tomatoes are incredibly high in lycopene, an antioxidant

-They are also high in Vitamins C and A

Eat More:

-Growing up, my mom made marinated tomatoes all summer: cut beefsteaks and sweet Vidalia onions into thin slices, then add balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil and oregano.  Let sit and serve with just about anything.

-Feeling a little adventurous?  Try an egg and tomato stir-fry!  One of Andrew’s roommates in college was from China and had made this for us–it’s a little sweet and super easy.

Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin

I made this just last night and loved it.  (My husband, on the other hand, isn’t a cheese fan, but he choked some down, anyway.)  This had wonderful summer flavor and is perfect for these upcoming cool nights before we have to move on to winter squash and root vegetables.  I made half the recipe and it could have easily served four as a side.

5 teaspoons olive oil, divided $

2 cups chopped red onion

1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper $

1 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices (about 3 1/2 cups)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon black pepper $

1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk $

3 ounces aged Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten $

Cooking spray

1 1/2 ounces French bread baguette, torn

1 (12-ounce) beefsteak tomato, seeded and cut into 8 slices

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes. Add bell pepper; cook 2 minutes. Add squash and garlic; cook 4 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Stir in quinoa, 1/4 cup basil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.

3. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, cheese, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

4. Place bread in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add breadcrumbs; cook 3 minutes or until toasted. Arrange tomatoes evenly over vegetable mixture. Top evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until topping is browned. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil.

Nutritional Information: 6 servings

Amount per serving

Calories: 235, Fat: 12.1g, Saturated fat: 4.4g, Monounsaturated fat: 5.3g, Polyunsaturated fat: 1.2g, Protein: 12.2g, Carbohydrate: 21.2g, Fiber: 3.9g, Cholesterol: 123mg, Iron: 1.9mg, Sodium: 443mg, Calcium: 229mg


Holly R. Layer received a B. A. in Journalism from Penn State and served four years in the U. S. Air Force before deciding to go back to school to become a Registered Dietician.  She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related.  An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy.  Too bad her husband, Andrew (an East Aurora native) is the pickiest man alive!  You can find her at