- By Jeff Olsen
Mayo Clinic Minute: The heirloom advantage
They’re not uniformly shaped, and they vary wildly in color. Some even have deep scars. And they may be the best tasting thing at your local farmers market. They are heirloom tomatoes.
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"I always call it a beauty mark," says Jen Welper, an executive chef with the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.
Welper’s advice about heirlooms: Buy for your palate — not your eyes.
"Something like this," she says, while holding a lopsided tomato with thick brown scar the size of a nickel. "That does not look so perfect, but is actually probably the best."
Welper says heirloom tomatoes have good body and flavor.
"These look so good," she says, as she slices into a baseball-sized red tomato.
They’re good for you, too. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, including lycopene. They contain potassium, vitamin C and are a source of fiber.
"They make any salad," says Welper. "And it can kind of be the star of the show."
Welper adds dice-sized cubes of red and yellow tomatoes to a bed of peppery arugula lettuce.
“Put lots of those in there,” she suggests.
Then, she tops them with feta cheese, fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.
"Oh, so good," she says, pouring the vinegar.
The result is an heirloom tomato salad that’s a feast for the eyes and the palate.