A common dish oftentimes credited to Italian cuisine, I have imagined that a similar recipe was inspired by a baguette of day old bread and an over abundance of tomatoes. How considerate of Mother Nature, as the summer season comes to an end she yields lush ripe tomatoes, bright green basil and blood cleansing parsley to see us into the autumn months. Extensive nutritional research concerning the foods used in this simple recipe has yielded some pretty impressive findings:
Tomatoes: the antioxidant function of lycopene in tomatoes contains beneficial cancer and heart disease preventing properties. Tomatoes are also a good source for many essential vitamins and minerals.
Basil: provides protection on a cellular level due to two flavonoids found to protect your white blood cells from radiation and oxygen-based damage. A good source of vitamin K, iron, calcium, and vitamin A.
Parsley: another flavonoid rich food, parsley also contains antioxidants that help prevent damage from free radicals in the body. It is a good source of vitamin C and folic acid beneficial for your heart and fighting inflammation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: a monounsaturated fat touted to cut your risk for cardiovascular disease by half when used in place of heart clogging saturated fats. Studies show that using olive oil can help lower bad LDL cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Ume Plum Vinegar: made from pickled Japanese plums, this salty vinegar contains many of the same medicinal properties. Recorded in ancient Japanese medical texts, ume plums are known to have an alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralizing fatigue, stimulating the digestion, and promoting the elimination of toxins.
Knowing what your foods provide and how these nutrients support and protect your body systems allows you to better plan a day or weeks menu of meals. As always, eat a variety of foods, in a variety of colors, textures and tastes to create a balanced, nutrient dense, immune strengthening diet.
Tomato Bread Salad
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 whole grain baguette, or 3 cups bread (see note)
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh squeezed tomato juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 tablespoons golden balsamic or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Ume Plum vinegar or 1 teaspoon sea salt
1. Cut or tear the baguette into bite size pieces and place in a large bowl.
2. Slice each tomato in half. Gently squeeze the juice into a bowl or measuring cup.
(The operative word here is “gently”, and I suggest you wear a full apron to avoid damaging your favorite T-shirt).
You don’t have to squeeze them dry, just enough for at least a half cup of juice.
3. Strain the liquid from the seeds and set aside. Discard the seeds.
4. Combine the juice from the tomatoes with the oil, vinegar, and ume plum vinegar (or salt).
5. Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the onion, basil and parsley.
6. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss well, making sure to coat the bread cubes with the liquid. Let sit a few minutes, tossing from time to time to let the flavors absorb.
Note: When bread is stale most recipes call for cubing and soaking in water. To avoid this step use tomatoes with lots of juice.
Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle designed to achieve optimal health and well being, based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics videos and classes, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia’s credentials include holistic nutritional counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker.