by Julie Christensen
You’ll find fresh Roma tomatoes in the store year-round, but in most parts of the country they’re at their best from late July to October, when you can find vine-ripened, local tomatoes. Roma tomatoes have a meaty texture and few seeds, making them an ideal tomato for salsas, sauces and cooked dishes. They’re delicious in fresh dishes, too. And at only 37 calories per cup, you can eat Roma tomatoes guilt-free. In fact, the bright globes are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K and lycopene, and have been found to help prevent several types of cancer and even improve cardiovascular health.
Buying Roma Tomatoes
The best Roma tomatoes are those you grow in your own garden or buy from a local farmer. These tomatoes are firm, well-colored and have a pleasant “tomato” fragrance. Avoid those with soft or dark spots.
Set Roma tomatoes in a dry, warm location, such as your kitchen counter to fully ripen. Don’t store them in the refrigerator, which kills their flavor. If you’ve got more tomatoes than you can use within a few days, chop and freeze them for later use. Pop Roma tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain them and rinse. The skins peel off easily. Chop Roma tomatoes and place them in a colander to drain any excess juices. Place prepared tomatoes in freezer bags or plastic containers and freeze for up to six months.
If you can’t find them fresh, you can also buy Roma tomatoes in cans. Most canned tomato products — including tomato paste, marinara sauce and ketchup — likely incorporate Roma tomatoes. Use these products in stews, soups and sauces year-round. Organic tomato products have been shown to contain more nutrients than conventionally grown ones.
Using Roma Tomatoes
Use fresh Roma tomatoes in any recipe calling for tomatoes. Better yet, keep it simple and serve them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Read on for a round-up of our favorite Roma tomato recipes. Enjoy!
Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce from Christine Ferrara combines fresh Roma tomatoes with olive oil, onions, basil, white wine and butter for a light, simple sauce perfect for dressing pasta. Make extra and freeze this for quick weeknight meals.
For a gluten-free alternative to pasta, try Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Roma Tomato Sauce from Food.com. Spaghetti squash looks like spaghetti, but is actually a winter squash, high in carotenoids and vitamin A.
Tomato and Basil Pasta from the Reluctant Gourmet is a simple, no-cook alternative to cooked tomato sauces. Whip this up in 10 minutes on a weeknight and serve with crusty bread and a salad.
If you love pesto, you’ve got to try this recipe for Roasted Tomato Pesto from Oh She Glows. It’s less expensive to make than traditional pesto and the flavors are fabulous. Freeze some for a taste of summer in January.
Quick, easy and delicious, try Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Pizza with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil. Sometimes referred to as a Marguerite pizza, this traditional favorite incorporates olive oil, basil and tomatoes for a light summer dish.
Creamy Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup from Spoon Fork Bacon is sweet, savory and satisfying. Perfect for a summer lunch or a winter warm-up.
Ina Garten’s Open-Faced Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Sandwich layers fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil and pesto on crusty bread for a quick, but elegant meal. Serve with kettle chips and lemonade.
Another favorite is the Barefoot Contessa’s Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad from the Food Network. Make this salad several hours in advance and refrigerate it so the flavors can meld. Serve it with crusty bread and grilled chicken.
If you’ve got an overabundance of Roma tomatoes, why not dry a few? Drying intensifies their sweet, slightly acidic flavor. An alternative to sun drying is the oven. Visit America’s Test Kitchen to learn How to Oven-Dry Tomatoes. The process is simple and then you’ll have dried tomatoes to use year-round in pasta, soups and pizza. Dried tomatoes make a great snack, too.
Do you have a favorite roma tomato recipe that’s available online that you’ve tried? Let us know and include a link!
Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.
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