Ask Shelley Case: Tomato Tips & Gluten-Free Recipe Ideas

My garden has an abundance of tomatoes – can you give me some tips on using them, as well as some gluten-free recipe ideas?

Any way you slice them, tomatoes are a nutrition powerhouse that are so versatile in a gluten free diet. They are low in calories, rich in vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin A and C, as well as lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color. Lycopene has been shown to play a role in lowering the risk of some cancers, particularly prostate cancer.

Another added bonus – tomatoes are delicious! Let’s face it… you can’t beat the taste of a local fresh-picked tomato! Although you have an abundance of tomatoes now, come winter you’ll be missing these juicy gems, when you can’t find a good tomato anywhere.

Here are a few tips, tricks and recipes to enjoy tomatoes now and in the months to come:

~ Start with selection: Select tomatoes that are heavy for their size, brightly colored, slightly firm and blemish free. If tomatoes are not ripe enough, place them in a paper bag and allow them to ripen at room temperature.

~ Storage: Refrigerating tomatoes stops the ripening process and kills the flavor, aroma and texture (this is why tomatoes turn mealy). Store them at room temperature instead. However, if they are very ripe they can be stored in the refrigerator.

~ Serrate them: The best way to cut tomatoes? Gently with a serrated knife to avoid crushing.

Tomato Types and Uses:
There are so many types of tomatoes it is often difficult to determine what type should be used for which purpose. Use this handy chart below to decide what tomato is best for your use or gluten-free recipe.

Type of Tomato Distinctiveness How to Use
Globe Tomatoes Most common; medium sized; mild taste; juicy Sandwiches, salsas, salads
Beefsteak/Big Boy Grows up to 1 pound or more; very juicy; lots of seeds; more acidic Sliced on sandwiches and burgers; Salsa; gluten-free pizza.
Plum (Most common type is the Roma) Oblong shaped with fewer seeds; Meatier and not juicy Great for making gluten-free tomato paste; ketchup and tomato based soups; perfect in chili and pasta dishes
Cherry Bite-sized sweeties Snacks; salad toppers; garnishes
Grape Meatier and less seeds than the Cherry variety Snacking; Veggie trays served with gluten-free dips

Think beyond the summer: Although the peak growing season for tomatoes is June through October there are ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes year-round. Here are some methods to preserving your just-picked tomatoes:

~ Canning: Canning has become very popular once again over the past several years. Check out the canning tomato tips from Canadian Living Magazine.

~ Freezing: Freezing tomatoes is a simple way to enjoy tomatoes off-season for casseroles, soups and chili.  Start by thoroughly washing the tomatoes, and dipping them in boiling water for about 30-45 seconds to loosen the skins. Remove from the water – peel and remove the core. Cut into pieces or leave whole and pack into freezer bags. Remove excess air and seal tight. Remember, when thawed the tomatoes will be slightly mushy so they are best used in casseroles and soups.

~ Cook recipes and freeze to enjoy later:
Salsas and sauces freeze up nicely and are the perfect quick and easy start to hectic weekday dinners. Whip up a quick batch of Fresh Pomodoro (Tomato) Sauce today and enjoy over gluten-free pasta once school starts!

Need some healthy recipe ideas using fresh tomatoes or tomato sauce? Check out these links:

Mediterranean Cod with Olives & Feta
Sautéed Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes & Basil

Cilantro-Lime Halibut with Fresh Tomatoes

Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora)

Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case, RD is a Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Visit Shelley and get more gluten-free tips & info at:

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2 Responses to “Ask Shelley Case: Tomato Tips & Gluten-Free Recipe Ideas”

  1. colleen hamson Says:

    Right now I am drying tomatoes to use in the winter. I can use these in all kinds of dishes.
    I use the screens from the old windows I replaced in my house. I put two of the same size together and put clamps on the 4 corners to keep the bugs out. put it outside in the sun on saw horses. It has taken 2 days in our 90 degree weather in Utah.

  2. KD Says:

    Dehydrate! We enjoy the bounty from available veggies and fruits of all kinds with a dehydrator. Come winter or cold weather, these morsels of sunshine burst in your mouth with the sweetest flavor. We overdry them, freeze them and sprinkle on salads, dinner plate or in soups. They are also good rehydrated with a bit of oil or your favorite fluid in just about any recipe. Try this and you won’t be disappointed. We’re working on the bushel scale, they are that tasty.

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