All About Cooking
All About Cooking
Better known as “Red Gold” in Italy, colorful, healthful and flavorful tomatoes are prepared and served in many forms, from whole to sauce and sun-dried.
By Vicki Martinez
You say tō-mā-tō, we say “red gold.” Although not a precious metal, the humble orb-like fruit is rich: rich in color, rich in flavor and rich in health benefits. And with over 7,500 varieties, the tomato is worth talking about.
Sweet and savory tomatoes top the list of staples in Italian cooking and the Mediterranean diet for two reasons: they’re versatile in the kitchen and they’re healthy in the body.
Tomatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A and are loaded with Lycopene an antioxidant linked to reduced risk of heart disease and cancer-fighting properties.
Tomatoes are one of the few types of produce that gain a significant nutrient boost when canned. The heat applied during processing not only intensifies the flavor but also the nutritional benefits, especially lycopene.
Having an ample supply of the various types of canned tomatoes is essential for any pantry stocked for the Mediterranean diet.
Just look at the possibilities:
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Canned whole and fresh these tomatoes are typically uncooked (although they're often hit with a quick burst of steam for skin removal).
Use: the base of any marinara
Vine-ripened whole tomatoes are diced and packed in a flavorful tomato purée. Diced tomatoes hold their firmness during cooking, so they're perfect if you want pieces of tomato in your finished dish.
Use: slow-simmered chunky sauces, chili, stew
A middleman between diced and puréed, crushed tomatoes are a go-to when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Enjoy the fresh tomato flavor without the simmer time.
Use: pasta sauces with a smooth consistency, soups, stews
The ultimate in concentrated flavor (and nutritional benefits), tomato paste is made by cooking down tomatoes into a pulp and removing most of the liquid. Just a little adds depth and that tomato umami to any dish.
Use: lasagna, ragu, casseroles, Bolognese
Tomato Talk Tip: To coax out even more flavor, instead of adding paste to liquid ingredients, add tomato paste to whatever your sautéing, browning the paste along with herbs and spices or mirepoix.
CHECK OUT THESE RECIPES WITH CANNED TOMATOES
DRIED AND TRUE
With roots in the Mediterranean region, ripe tomatoes were left to dry in the sun so tomatoes could be preserved and used during any season. The drying process eliminates the liquid and intensifies the sweet, yet tart, tomato flavor.
Use: pizza topping, in salads, add texture to any sauce
An uncooked purée of vine-ripened tomatoes (strained of skin and seeds), passata is typically sold in bottles or cartons. The concentrated acidity lends to a rich and flavorful tomato taste.
Use: base for pasta sauces, soups, stews, casseroles
Stocking up on this perfect pantry staple guarantees you'll be able to add the Midas touch to any meal.