It is widely accepted that tomatoes, despite their veggie-like characteristics, are technically a fruit, but did you know that in 1886 the “fruit or vegetable” debate went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court?
Though the botanical classification may be up for debate, the nutritional benefits of tomatoes are not. One large tomato has only 33 calories, is full of vitamins A and C, folic acid and antioxidants, including the cancer-prevention superstar lycopene.
Tomatoes are at their peak right now at the Marin Farmers Market and are a favorite among chefs. From soups to salad to sauces, it’s tomato time. At Whipper Snapper, a California-Caribbean restaurant in the West End neighborhood of San Rafael, it’s gazpacho time.
Owner and chef Bill Higgins has been shopping the Marin Farmers Market for the past 25 years, sourcing 80 to 90 percent of his ingredients locally. According to Higgins, the best part of running a restaurant is the “the joy of coming to the market, buying the fresh produce directly from the farmers, taking everything back to the kitchen, planning the specials, and serving the customers.”
Some of Higgins’ most popular dishes include grilled fish tacos, Cuban cigars featuring meat from Prather Ranch, grilled chicken wings, spicy Jamaican jerk chicken and warm Full Belly Farm” spinach salad.
“Full Belly Farms probably grows the best spinach in the whole world,” he says.
This week, the special is Higgins’ signature gazpacho made from Full Belly Farm tomatoes, G&S corn, Orchard Farms cucumbers and Toscano & Sons jalapenos. Higgins makes this cold soup chunky to showcase the bounty of flavors in organic California vegetables at this time of year.
Click here for the gazpacho recipe.