(CNN)It's hard to deny that tomatoes are the ideal summer food -- and that's saying a lot in a season where so much produce is at its peak. But when a heat wave strikes, as one has throughout much of the United States over the past few weeks, the tomato really proves its worth.
Tomatoes are the perfect no-cook food for a heat wave
On their own, tomatoes are just what the doctor ordered. "Raw tomatoes are a source of lycopene, an antioxidant, and they're also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and folate," said Lauren Manganiello, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist in Long Island, New York.
Though cooking tomatoes does boost their lycopene content, you'll still get enough from an uncooked tomato to make it worth your while, according to Manganiello. If you really want to help up your antioxidant intake, add a little bit of olive oil. "Consuming fresh tomatoes with a source of fat, such as olive oil, is a great way to boost lycopene absorption," she said.
With a few swipes of a knife, you can turn a crop of tomatoes into a truly satisfying meal, and in many cases, you can do it without touching a stove burner knob.
The following incredibly easy tomato recipes are either no-cook or come together with a few chop-and-prep steps, because it's tough enough to get through these scorching days without adding the misery of a hot kitchen.
When it comes down to it, almost anything can be a salad or a sandwich -- the potential combinations are endless. And nothing demonstrates that better than a tomato sandwich.
Southerners rave over the simplicity of a tomato sandwich on white bread, dressed lightly with mayonnaise and salt. And if you want to pile on more ingredients, you'll find ways to make a tomato sandwich every day of the week.