Why You Should Never Use Heirloom Tomatoes For Pasta Sauce

Bowl of homemade tomato sauce
Bowl of homemade tomato sauce - Goskova Tatiana/Shutterstock

Whether you like starchy gnocchi, meaty lasagna, or classic spaghetti, pasta sauce works in an endless variety of Italian noodle dishes. Although there are dozens of high-quality jarred sauces on the market -- and a few simple kitchen hacks can improve their store-bought flavor -- nothing beats homemade pasta sauce. We're not just talking about red sauce sourced from tomato paste; we're talking about a proper from-scratch masterpiece made from whole tomatoes. And although there are many varieties to make homemade pasta sauce with, it should never be heirloom.

Heirloom tomatoes flaunt unique and diverse flavor profiles that vary depending on the subvariety. Whether it's a Green Zebra, Valencia, or Brandywine, heirloom tomatoes are bright, sweet, juicy, and marked by a taste that's complex and dynamic. Their bold flavor is directly attributed to their volatile compounds -- tiny molecules that contribute to their aromatic elegance and distinctive taste. However, volatile compounds are sensitive to heat. When heirloom tomatoes are cooked, these compounds evaporate, and the fruit loses its vibrant flavor and aroma. Non-shocking fact of the day: you must cook tomatoes to make pasta sauce. So, spare your heirloom tomatoes from the heat and find other, more fitting ways to use them so you can get the most out of their lively flavor.

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Best Ways To Enjoy Heirloom Tomatoes

Person preparing Caprese salad
Person preparing Caprese salad - Xsandra/Getty Images

We know what you're thinking: If heirloom tomatoes are that delicious, how can you live without making pasta sauce with them?! Don't panic. There are many ways to enjoy the decadent, juicy flavor of heirloom tomatoes without cooking them.

Serve sliced heirloom tomatoes on a shareable platter paired with rich, fatty burrata and soft, salty prosciutto topped with olive oil, a balsamic glaze, and a basil garnish. Akin to a Caprese salad, the sweet yet umami-forward tomatoes marry well with the full-bodied cheese, tangy glaze, and herbaceous finish. Stack it all atop a crusty baguette, and you'll have a perfect appetizer or picnic provision.

Feeling spicy? Introduce heirloom tomatoes into your favorite salsa recipe. When blended with roasted spicy serranos, jalapeños, and refreshing bell peppers, the bright and zippy flavor of the tomatoes will stand out in a sea of fire. Use the queso as a queso topper or to jazz up your tacos.

Tomatoes are a classic burger fixing, and what better variety to use than heirlooms? Their snappy taste will liven and uplift the meaty machismo of a beef burger, making it feel lighter and more refreshing. Don't forget a creamy aioli and a hearty serving of pickles too. Speaking of pickles, marinate heirloom tomatoes in a pickle brine for your next burger bash.

Best Tomatoes For Making Pasta Sauce

Pouring bowl of tomatoes into pot
Pouring bowl of tomatoes into pot - Gmvozd/Getty Images

The ghost of heirloom's past won't haunt you if you use them to make pasta sauce. However, there are better tomato varieties to consider using for your next pasta night. For something classic, a good old-fashioned Roma won't fail you. Tried and true, these quintessential tomatoes boast a low moisture content that facilitates a sauce with a desirable consistency without excessive simmering or reducing.

Thanks to their thick skin and rich flavor that's marked by sweet and tangy but never acidic undertones, San Marzano tomatoes are the gold standard for preparing scratch-made pasta sauce. These pasta-perfect tomatoes originated in Italy, making them a great option for a Sicilian-inspired dinner party.

Because you may already have them in your fridge for salads and snacking, cherry tomatoes are another great option for making homemade pasta sauce. Known for their sweetness, these bite-sized morsels have a charming depth of flavor and eliminate the need to add refined sugar to balance acidity.

So, next time you want to challenge yourself to make home-cooked pasta sauce, leave your heirloom tomatoes in the fruit basket and opt for a different variety instead. Trust us, your burgers, cheese plates, and salsa jars are much better homes for these juicy, intricate-tasting tomatoes.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.