Green Tomatoes: Fruit of the Vegetable Patch

Scientifically, tomatoes are classified as a fruit, but since they don’t contain the sweet flavor of most fruits and are typically used in savory dishes, they’re legally classified as a vegetable.

Every year, my small vegetable garden produces far more tomatoes than I can possibly use. As the season wanes, an abundance of green tomatoes forlornly hang on the vine looking for enough sun to turn them into red jewels. I’ve begun searching for unique ways to use green tomatoes as a vegetable and as a fruit in my recipes.

Tomatoes are low in calories and a good source of vitamins C, A and K. They also are a very good source of molybdenum, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, chromium and vitamin B-1. In addition, tomatoes contain lycopene, which has antioxidant and cancer-preventing properties.

The spices and flavors of my Green Tomato Spice Cake act as a showcase for the tomato’s fruit-like qualities.

Green Tomato Spice Cake

1 box spice cake mix

1-1/4 cups water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

1 cup raisins (or dried cranberries, craisins or currants)

1-1/2 cups diced green tomatoes

1 large, peeled and diced, Granny Smith apple (about 3/4 to 1 cup)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 cup sweetened coconut, toasted, optional

Whipped cream, optional

1. Heat oven to 350 F.

2. In mixing bowl, lightly beat the water, vegetable oil, eggs and brown sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Stir in the spice cake mix and flour, and mix until smooth. Stir in the vanilla, pecans or walnuts, raisins, tomatoes and apples. Blend well.

3. Spoon the batter into a greased and floured 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a knife or spatula. Cool for 30 minutes.

4. Using a fine-mesh strainer or a sifter, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. When serving, top each slice with a tablespoon of coconut and/or whipped cream, if desired.

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