So I’m back! Every time this year I attend the Food and Nutrition Conference organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association). As I am the President of the International Affiliate (American Overseas Dietetic Association), I attend the conference and participate in several of the activities there. I’ll be sharing my experiences in the next post, but for now I need talk about one of my favorite Greek meat recipes: Kotopoulo Kokkinisto. While I look forward to visiting the U.S., after a few days I do miss the tastes of Greece, and one of them is the kokkinista dishes. Kokkinisto, refers to the method of cooking in tomato sauce. Read more »
As you can already tell by the name of my blog, I think tomatoes are not only a necessary part of the Mediterranean cuisine but also a super food. Apart from the being a source of vitamin C and antioxidants that may protect from certain forms of cancer it may even make us feel less depressed.
A study by Japanese and Chinese researchers published in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that Japanese individuals over 70 years of age who ate tomatoes two to six times a week were 46% less likely to report mild or severe symptoms of depression compared with those who ate tomatoes less than once a week. No such association was found for other vegetables. Read more »
In my mother’s descriptions of my grandmother’s cooking and her own, one ingredient would come up that seemed odd to me: tomato paste. I would wonder: why would you use all these fresh ingredients and then add a canned tomato product?
Well, in the olden days it served a purpose: it was used as a substitute for tomatoes, when fresh ones were not available. Tomato paste was made at home as a way to preserve tomatoes to use during the winter. I read somewhere that tomato paste originated in Italy and and then its use spread across other areas of the Mediterranean, which makes perfect sense considering how important tomato is in the Mediterranean cuisine.
My mother remembers as a little girl in the 50’s, going to the local deli (in Greece) and getting 1-2 tablespoons of the stuff on a piece of wax paper so her mother could use it for cooking. What did they do with it? Well they made the known kokkinista, which translates as the “red ones”. These are dishes either made with tomatoes or tomato paste, hence the name referring to the redness.The tomato paste along with olive oil is warmed up (or almost sautéed) in a pot or pan, and the vegetables or meat are added and cooked. Of course it is also used in pasta and sauces and basically when you want to give a little color or added flavor. Read more »
I love tomatoes! So much so, that I dedicated half the name of my blog to tomatoes. But there is another reason: they are a fundamental part of Greek food contributing to many of the health benefits of the diet.
Tomatoes didn’t exist in ancient Greece and it is said that they arrived in Europe in the 16th century. Nevertheless tomatoes are one of the most important parts of Greek cuisine along with olive oil (hence the name of the blog).
Tomatoes or some form of tomatoes are added to the majority of meals in Greece. Apart from the well-known Greek salad, tomatoes are present in many dishes. In the summer, fresh tomato is combined with seasonal vegetables to make lathera; green beans, okra, peas, briami-vegetable summer medley, and eggplant to name a few-see some recipes here. In the winter when they didn’t have fresh tomatoes, they would use tomato paste to provide that redness to meat and to winter vegetables such as cauliflower or spinach. Today, apart from the fresh tomatoes you can find canned tomatoes, not only convenient for cooking but in many cases may have higher concentrations of lycopene (a phytochemical- carotenoid, rich in antioxidants). Read more »
Welcome to Olive Tomato! This is my first post and I wanted to explain the story behind the name. For me, olive oil is the quintessential ingredient of the Greek- Mediterranean diet, but pairing it with tomato makes a perfect match and is a combination found in many Greek recipes. Give me tomatoes and olive oil and I can turn any food Greek! Greeks even have a term for this humble cooking technique: any food cooked with tomato and olive oil is called kokkinisto from the word kokkino, which means red in Greek.
Do it: Sauté any vegetable in a little olive oil (green beans, peas, okra, zucchini are good choices) with some onions and than simmer in crushed tomatoes with some herbs until soft. Eat with feta cheese and a slice of whole grain bread and you have a complete meal. And when tomatoes are not in season just use organic crushed tomatoes preferably in BPA free packaging such as glass jars or cans with BPA free lining. Tomatoes and olive oil not only make an ideal flavor combination, but a nutritional one as well. Studies have shown that when tomato is cooked with olive oil, the absorption of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may protect from cancer and heart disease, is increased. Read more »