There is no denying that Italy is the Mecca of food. My favorite party of studying in Siena this past summer was exploring the weekly market in between classes. I chatted with my favorite vendors, and they shared kitchen secrets and family recipes. Their comments made me understand the importance of using the right kind of tomato for the right recipe.

Tomatoes can give different tastes, textures, and consistencies, and the more you know, the faster you’ll master Italian cooking in your own kitchen. With that, here is what to do with different types of tomatoes, according to an Italian, of course:

1. San Marzano

ham, cheese, meat, bread, toast, vegetable, bruschetta, tomato
Lucy Krasker

San Marzano tomatoes are a type of plum tomato bursting with sweetness. When cooked down, they add savory notes, and their juices do not become too runny. They are best used to make tomato sauces and soups because they are deeply flavorful, meaty and super hydrated.

#SpoonTip: Double your jar of your Nonna’s sauce by adding stewed San Marzanos.

2. Cherry

Cherry tomatoes are by far my favorite. If we're being honest, I snack on them like they're M&Ms. You can mix these tomatoes into a salad, either roasted or crudo (raw). Also, try out a purely tomato salad by adding balsamic glaze.

3. Hierloom

Heirloom tomatoes can be gnarly looking, but their unique shape makes them beautiful on the plate.  They're perfect for garden fresh caprese, as the size creates a perfect stack and ratio with mozzarella. And, remember to always accompany caprese with fresh basil.

4. Roma

Do you hate it when your margarita pizza has a huge tomato that slips off the slice? Try using Roma tomatoes. They're not too big, so they won't overwhelm your cheesy bite. Simple and sweet, you can also use Roma tomatoes for bruschetta.

5. Beefsteak

vegetable, pasture
Lucy Krasker

Stack these tomatoes up: Eggplant parmigiana stacks, infusing mozzarella, are a go-to cozy dinner or impressive appetizer. Especially meaty, these can also be used for sauces and soups.

Tomatoes are the simplest and most diverse ingredient. Raw or roasted, stewed or sliced, they're the perfect addition to soups, salads and sauces alike. Tomato, tomato there all the same great addition to your everyday favorites.