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Tomatoes - A Taste of Summer

skillet loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs to make Farmers' Market Vegetable Medley
Farmers' Market Vegetable Medley is a fragrant, tasty, easy vegetable dish that pairs well with anything from the grill.


Sliced tomatoes on the table bring back summertime childhood memories. My mom always has a plate of sliced tomatoes on the table at every lunch and dinner. There is something special about a fresh slice of tomato with your meal. It’s like a taste of summer tantalizing your taste buds.  I’ve already made a trip to the Farmers Market and got my first taste of summer with slicing and globe tomatoes.

Tomatoes are good for you; research-based information reveals that tomatoes are packed with vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and vitamin A in the form of health-promoting beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. They also contain lycopene, a compound that researchers think may help the body combat cancer.

In fact, in one cup of chopped raw tomatoes you will get 24 calories; 5.3 grams  carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 254 mg potassium; 22 mg Vitamin C; and 1,133 IU of Vitamin A.

To get the most value from your tomato purchase, choose those that are plump, firm, and free from any hard places, decay spots and unhealed cracks. Look for a bright red uniform color.

When you buy tomatoes from the supermarket, purchase them already ripe. Grocery store tomatoes are usually refrigerated between the time they reach the store and the time they are purchased.

Those purchased from a local farmers market or backyard garden are brought directly from the field to the market in an open truck, which hastens ripening. They can safely be purchased at various stages of ripeness.

To properly store your tomatoes, store mature, or partially ripe at room temperature in a light, but not sunny-area. When unripe tomatoes are stored at temperatures above 80 degrees, their red color does not develop fully and the tomatoes may become mushy or flavorless. 

There are over 4,000 varieties, ranging from the small, marble size cherry tomato to the giant Ponderosa that can weigh three pounds. The difference in the varieties determines their use. 

I love the small cherry, globe, and grape tomatoes. I keep them in a bowl on my counter and eat them like they are candy. In fact, I have a bowl there right now. They are great also in salads, stir-fry or sautéed. The larger round varieties, Better Boy and Beef Steak tomatoes are used for sandwiches and referred to as slicing tomatoes. These tend to hold more juice and seeds. If you are making salsa, sauce, paste, canning or on pizza, then the eggplant shaped plum tomatoes such as Roma are the best choice due to their meatiness.

If you find yourself with an abundance of tomatoes, contact meor click How Do I ... Can Tomatoes?for information on preserving for later use, or for your copy of “Arkansas’ Fresh Tomatoes”. Contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDueHadley, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at

Farmers Market Vegetable Medley is a fragrant, tasty, easy vegetable dish that pairs well with anything from the grill. The herbs are used in place of salt. Fresh herbs are best and can be purchased at the farmers market along with the vegetables for this dish. It’s one of my favorite summer time side dishes.

Farmers Market Vegetable Medley

  • 1 tablespoon margarine or butter
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash, sliced thin
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, or 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon fresh, cut chiffonade
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt margarine or butter. Add onion and sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until almost transparent. Add squash and zucchini. Saute until fork tender. Add tomatoes, corn, garlic, and seasonings and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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