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Spring has finally arrived and what better time than now to talk tomatoes? Tomatoes come in all different sizes and shapes, but in my house, it's the bite-size tomatoes, including grape and cherry, that are eaten as if they were candy. Although, you may be wondering what the difference is.

Grape and cherry tomatoes are actually from the same plant species, Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme. However, they differ in their shape. While cherry tomatoes are round and slightly larger than a cherry, grape tomatoes are oblong, and sized and shaped like a grape. Cherry tomatoes can be a variety of colors, including red, yellow or orange. Sun Gold, for instance is a type of cherry tomato that is a beautiful orange color, and Yellow Pear is a cherry tomato that is, you guessed it, yellow. On the other hand, grape tomatoes are most particularly red.

Many recipes call for cherry tomatoes, but often grape is all that is available in the store. This is because grape tomatoes have thicker skins making them hardier and easier to pack and transport. Grape and cherry tomatoes are mostly interchangeable. However, the meatier grape tomato is less sweet and less juicy than a cherry tomato. Hollow out cherry tomatoes and stuff, but use either one for a lettuce salad, pasta dish or skewer. No matter which one you choose, be sure to pop this bite-sized tomato in your mouth!

Italian Beef Stir-Fry (Printable PDF)

1 ½ cups uncooked bow-tie pasta

1 Tablespoon canola oil

1 lb. beef sirloin steak, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon black pepper

8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

¼ cup light Italian dressing

1 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (optional)

In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, but do not add salt to cooking water. Drain cooked pasta and toss with Italian dressing; cover and keep warm. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place beef strips in skillet and stir-fry until outside surface is no longer pink. Do not overcook. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm. In same skillet, add garlic, pepper and mushrooms and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and beef. Heat through. Spoon beef mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 350 calories, 12 grams fat, 230 milligrams sodium, 28 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 32 grams protein