I am just beginning to realize the difference between the tastes and quality of different tomatoes for different dishes. I need help from a tomato expert. Which tomatoes are best for the following dishes : 1. Lasagna 2. Penne 3. Sauce for polenta 4. Pizza or focaccia Thank you for your help!
The general consensus is that for occidental-style, cooked tomato sauces - all of the sauces you mention are - you want to use the more plum-shaped, thicker-skinned types like Roma or San Marzano, NOT globe tomatoes, especially not the greenhouse grown, large, watery varieties. The more ripe, the better.
Also, good quality canned product (whole peeled, or peeled strips) is usually considered superior to fresh, due to them being canned at optimal ripeness which would make transporting them fresh impractical. I found that the cheapest brands often are sloppily peeled and/or not ripe enough and/or too sour, it is usually worth going for the 90 cent can vs the 30 cent can.
Also, do experiment with what part of the tomato you use. You could:
-Use it whole except the stem, and puree or strain the sauce later (does not apply to canned peeled obviously :) )
-Use everything except the peel (will need looooong stewing to deal with the seeds)
-Use the flesh, and also the juice strained from the seeds
-Use only the flesh (lot of tomato needed, and you might lose some of the umami from the juices)
Also, mashing vs pureeing vs straining can make a lot of textural difference.
rackandboneman's answer is excellent, yes. I would like to add: I feel that there are two ways to use tomatoes: raw, in salads, cooked, in sauces. In sauces you want ripe, sweet tomatoes with thin peels, because you are concentrating the flavour. Using acidic tomatoes would result in a very acidic sauce. I don't think there is a detailed answer to which cultivar for which sauce, although I would love to read the opinion of a tomato-obsessed person on this.
For salads (I know that is not your question, but you need to recognise this type too when choosing) you would use firmer, less sweet variaties with some more complex, maybe acidic flavours. Do not mix up the two. And because it is generally impossible to buy good, ripe, sauce tomatoes,I would say: go with the advice to use good tinned once. Tomatoes are one area where the food industry really destroyed a magical food product into an easy transported and stored food-like substitute where taste did not enter the equation...