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How to Know What Tomato to Use for That Dish

Tomatoes to Use Fresh
Beefsteak tomatoes fit nicely in sandwiches.
Beefsteak tomatoes fit nicely in sandwiches.

Tomatoes for uncooked recipes should be easy to work with, sweet on the tongue, and look pretty on the plate. They should be juicy yet firm, having a high flesh-to-seed-and-jelly ratio. Choose those that are thin-skinned and bright in color -- which is not always red. Local growers might offer heirlooms -- older strains, traditional to particular regions -- ranging in color from eggshell to maroon.

Which varieties fit the bill? One popular choice is beefsteak, named for its meaty, raw-steak red flesh. (A pale yellow heirloom, on the other hand, is nicknamed pork chop.) Beefsteaks are conveniently sandwich-sized. A single slice might span an entire hamburger bun or Kaiser roll.

If you're thinking small, consider cherry tomatoes. Half-inch varieties are attractive in salads; one and a half-inch monsters are ideal for appetizers. Most are round and red as their namesake, but farmers markets might offer a mix-and-match of red and gold, round and pear-shaped.