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Tomato cookbook a lycopene bonanza

Thursday, November 21, 2002

By Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Had your lycopene today?

In case you're not sure what that is, lycopene is the antioxidant found abundantly in red fruits and vegetables.


Tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes and tomato products such as ketchup, spaghetti sauce and canned tomatoes, are especially high in this compound.

Thus, it seems natural for the H.J. Heinz Company to compile a nifty little cookbook called "Great Tomato!" that has 57 recipes stressing lycopene -- and Heinz Ketchup and Classico Pasta Sauce.

Research has shown that lycopene may help reduce the risk of some kinds of cancer, heart disease and other ailments because, as lycopene levels in the blood increase, levels of oxidized lipoprotein, protein and DNA compounds decrease -- and that, apparently, is a good thing.

We eat a lot of tomatoes in this country, about 90 pounds per person per year in all forms, but nutritionists say you can always use more lycopene.

Collaborating on the recipes were Byron Bardy, certified master chef at Heinz, and David Yeung, Heinz general manager of global nutrition and author of "Unlock the Power of Lycopene: ReDefining Your Diet for Optimum Health."

"Great Tomato!" features six chapters with recipes for chicken, vegetarian, beef, pork and seafood dishes, plus a chapter highlighting recipes for feeding a crowd.

Recipes range from standard family favorites such as Chicken Parmesan to more exotic choices, such as Asian-Style Cheese Tortellini With Scallops.

The spiral-bound paperback has lovely color photos, is published by arpr, inc. of Pittsburgh, costs $9.50 and can be found at Wholey's Balcony Cookware, South Hills Borders, amazon.com or by calling 1-800-688-7435.

We chose to make lycopene-rich (70.8 mg) Monterey Chicken, because it was one of the few recipes that fit Countdown's six ingredients or less rule. Well -- almost.

We designated the chopped tomato (seventh ingredient) "optional" to qualify. Besides, decent tasting tomatoes are gone until next summer.

However, the tomato adds another color to this eye-pleasing dish, which we served on a platter atop 8 ounces of cooked linguine.

Chicken Monterey

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pow der (more if you like it spicy)
  • 12 ounces black beans (we found a 15.5-ounce can and used 3/4 of it)
  • 12 ounces drained whole kernel corn (we used an 11-ounce can)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped, optional

Drain beans, reserving 1/2 cup liquid; set aside.

In large saucepan (we used a big skillet), lightly brown chicken in oil (3 to 4 minutes on each side over medium heat, depending on thickness of breasts).

Stir in chili powder.

Add reserved beans and liquid, corn and ketchup.

Simmer, covered, 5 to 7 minutes (we simmered a full 10 minutes) or until chicken is cooked, stirring occasionally.

Top each serving with chopped tomato.

Serves 4.

Nancy Anderson can be reached at nanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3549.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to:nanderson@post-gazette.com . Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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