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Happy hour, pizza, roasts, sides, even desserts: what do they all have in common? We can use tomatoes in each. Strange? This vegetable, whole, cut, juiced, is actually very versatile in the kitchen. We will actually talk about a specific kind, the vine tomato and its peculiar characteristics, some of which make it very unique and prestigious. We know that great dishes are also the result of great ingredients.
Vine tomatoes are a fruit, or more exactly berries. Compared to the classic tomato they are smaller and grow in clusters. Because of their size and ripening, they have a more intense taste. The principal kinds are the cherry tomatoes, piccadilly, plum tomatoes and the Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio.
Cherry tomatoes are called that because of their shape: round and small, just a little bigger than a cherry. This variety, depending on origin and color, has different names. The most famous one is the “Pachino”, and it indicates cherry tomatoes from the South-East of Sicily. It's definitely the best and most prestigious kind thanks to its crimson color and intense flavor. There are also different types of cherry tomato, but their color is not as bright (there is also a yellow variety) and the flavor is less pungent.
We also have the “piccadilly”: it's easy to recognize thanks to its "drop" shape and a bright red hue. It has more water, which is helpful in some preparations as we will explain later. The blondekopfchen is a rare variety, but you can find it seeds shopping online. It grows in clusters and has many fruits, it tastes sweet and has a typical yellow color.
PLUM AND PIENNOLO
Plum tomatoes don't have a definite origin. The skin is thick, pulpy, not too watery, and needs to be cooked fairly quickly. The last one on the list is the Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio. It grows only on the Vesuvio area (you can buy it online) and has to be kept outside protected from weather changes. It never dries out or goes bad even after a few months still preserving its balanced shape and sweet and sour taste.
How do you cook them? It's quick and easy. All of the above tomatoes have three things in common. Bright color, intense flavor, pulpy skin. It's no use to ruin them for a passata or any sauce that requires a long time to cook when there are specific tomatoes for that. It's better to keep their consistency. If you use them fresh, cut in half and let the seeds and water come out. You can keep the juice for broths. The pulp and skin should be sautéed in oil and garlic for a simple and tasty pasta sauce.
For a nicer looking result, you can make them confit: all of the above varieties are perfect for this technique. You cut the tomatoes in half, but this time you don't need to drain them. Dress the tomatoes with garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and sugar. Place them on a tray and add oil, put in the oven at 130° for a couple of hours. The secret is to dry them without desiccating them. You will have your confit ready for sides, salads, or to garnish, just add a drop of oil for a last finishing touch.