Roma Tomatoes: The Italian Plum
Like other fruits and vegetables, tomatoes can range in size, color and use. Roma tomatoes are red or yellow with an egg or oval shape. They differ from their tomato cousins because theyâ€™re usually meatier, denser and tend to have more pulp. With lower water content, theyâ€™re a bit sturdier and hold up better when cut than other tomato varieties.
How theyâ€™re grown:
- Roma tomatoes are grown in the United States, Mexico, Australia and Great Britain.
- Roma tomatoes are generally available year-round. It has been said that San Marzana, Italy (near Naples) has the most ideal climate to grow Roma tomatoes.
- The vines that produce the Roma tomatoes are referred to as â€śdeterminate.â€ť This means that the tomatoes ripen all at once rather than progressively throughout the season.
How to shop for them:
- Roma tomatoes are firmer than other tomatoes and can easily be identified by their oval shape.
- Select tomatoes with a bright-red color.
- Look for Roma tomatoes with smooth skin, and avoid wrinkles and cracks.
How to store them:
- Store in a dry place at room temperature. Storing tomatoes in the fridge can reduce their flavor.
How to prepare them:
- Due to their durability, Roma tomatoes are suited for cooking or for raw use.
- The subtle sweetness of the Roma is intensified by cooking, so theyâ€™re commonly used for processed tomato products such as tomato paste, tomato sauce, ketchup and soup.
How to eat them:
- Roma tomatoes pair well with garlic, chilies, beans, basil, oregano, cilantro and cheeses. They also pair well with shrimp.
- They can be slow roasted, dried, stuffed and baked, or sliced and added to stews, soups and sauces. They can also be diced and used in fresh salsa or in other fresh dishes like salads.
- Sliced Roma tomatoes are especially useful as a pizza topping, because they hold their shape and wonâ€™t make the pizza soggy.
Nutritional highlights:Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Tomatoes contain vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and potassium. They also contain an impressive antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene has been said to be useful for heart health. The cooking process can actually result in the lycopene becoming even more available for use in the body. Tomatoes also have other carotenoids (including beta-carotene), which have been shown to support eye health.
- Â˝ cup of chopped fresh tomato has only 15 calories, no fat or cholesterol, and 4 grams of total carbohydrate including 1 gram of fiber.
- Â˝ cup of chopped tomatoes also provides 15% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin A and 20% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin C.