RomaJune22

Roma’s Guide to Grilling Fish

It’s officially summer— and it’s high time you brought some fresh surf onto your turf. We’re here to help you become a master at grilling fish; a feat that might sound daunting. Fish isn’t known for being “easy” to grill, but with our tips on how to grill and, most importantly, WHAT to grill, you’ll be planning cookouts with everyone you know to show off.

It’s important to note that not all fishes are created equal, especially when it comes to grilling. While everything might sound delicious or look similar at the store, it doesn’t cook or taste the same once you’ve fired up the grill. The last thing you want is that beautiful piece of mahi mahi crumbling through the rack of your grill, fueling the flames instead of your eager stomach. Here are the top five types of fish we recommend when it comes to throwing (read: placing with care) onto the preheated grate; and while they all play nicely with a variety of flavors, we’ve picked a few just to give you some mealtime inspiration:

Swordfish: A good “in-between” flavor on the mild to fishy scale, swordfish steaks are absolutely divine. Acidic tones only enhance the flavor, and it is summer, after all— smother with a basil-packed pesto to indulge in all the freshness the world has to offer.

Tuna: Not the “in the can” kind. Tuna steaks are hearty and hardy. They’re extremely flavorful on their own, but if you want to get a little jazzy, we recommend glazing with a mix of ginger, soy sauce and green onion.

Salmon: While this tasty fish is now common in households throughout the U.S. year-round in frozen form, there is nothing better than a fresh salmon fillet. The stronger flavor of salmon pairs nicely with a lemon and dill sauce.

Mahi mahi: Hailing its name from Hawaii, this tropical white fish has a mild, semi-sweet flavor and pairs well with other tropical delicacies. Compliment with a Thai coconut sauce.

Red snapper: A less well-known fish in our neck of the woods, red snapper fillets have a relatively mild flavor; comparable to salmon, but slightly sweeter. Pair with a mango salsa to enhance the sweetness in the best way.

So you’ve picked your grilling fish, found a recipe, and now you’re ready for your time in the sun (and we mean that both literally and metaphorically). Before you get started, here are a few tips to help you ace this grilling challenge, whether it’s your first attempt or your five-hundredth:

  • Make sure the fillets or steaks are thick and hardy enough that they won’t fall through the grate when they start cooking.
  • Clean the grate really, really well before you fire up the grill so that the fish won’t stick.
  • Preheat the grill to high— the higher temperature will keep the fish from sticking (fish cooks quickly).
  • Oil BOTH the fish and the grate before you grill.
  • The long-standing rule of thumb for grilling fillets and steaks (which is usually the cut you’ll grill when it comes to fish) is 8-10 minutes for every inch of thickness. Cook for a tad longer on the first side, and only flip once.
  • Grill with the lid down to lock in moisture and flavor.

TASTY TIP: Enhance the flavor of any fish on a charcoal grill by adding wood chips into the charcoal. Soak the wood chips in water, wine, or another liquid of your choice for about 30 minutes just before grilling; place the chips in the charcoal, and grill as normal! They’ll come out with a nice, smoky flavor.

Good luck, happy grilling, and don’t forget about Roma Foods when you’re hailed the next Grill Master!

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RomaJune11

The Perfect Meal for a Backyard Bash

For vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike, when you think of summer foods, chances are you’re thinking of the delicious, seasonal fruits and veggies that come along with. There’s nothing wrong with giving up meat for a night– and with this tasty pairing you’ll WANT to give your meat up. Balsamic glazed portobello mushroom caps on the grill can be dressed up any way you’d like; and a watermelon & feta salad combines sweet and savory for the perfect side dish. This meal is optimized to serve 4; but you can easily manipulate to suit your party size or personal tastes— and you can get everything you need to make it right here at Roma’s (in other words, we’ll see you soon!).

For the mushroom caps:
Ingredients:
4 Portobello caps
Balsamic glaze (we recommend Classic Cream from Isola— it’s made in Italy and can be found at Roma’s!)
EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Be sure to clean off excess dirt from your mushroom caps— to do so, take a damp paper towel and wipe the top of each shroom off. Cut the stems below the “rim” of the cap and then place each mushroom gill-side up in a large Tupperware. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. When you’re ready, fire up the grill, pop the shrooms on (gill-side up), and grill for about 10 minutes (we flip for maximum grill potential). Optional: Towards the end of their time on the grill, take a couple slices of our fresh Swiss cheese and stuff it into the cap so that it melts! Once your mushrooms are at rest, drizzle with the balsamic glaze. Stack them onto fresh, locally made rolls, delivered fresh every morning from your favorite bakeries in the Capital Region (like Perreca’s!) and top with sauteed peppers & onions!

For the watermelon & feta salad:
Ingredients:

½ large watermelon, cubed (about 8 cups)
6 oz. feta cheese crumbles
And your secret ingredient to tie the whole meal together… Balsamic glaze!

Directions:
Place watermelon cubes in a bowl and then sprinkle with feta crumbles. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, serve, and eat up!

We hope these recipes inspire you to get outdoors and get grilling! Here’s to spending another beautiful summer amongst those we love so dearly— we wish you days and evenings filled with sunshine, delicious food, great conversations, and happiness. Saluti! (that’s “cheers”, in Italian!)

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How to Keep Your Produce Fresh Longer!

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Keeping in theme with the exciting freshness of spring, we know you’re all aching to buy fresh produce. There’s absolutely nothing better than a fridge well-stocked with delicious, freshly picked fruits and vegetables. It’s enticing, bright, and offers boundless potential when figuring out what to make for dinner. The unfortunate thing about fresh produce is that it doesn’t stay fresh forever. We’ve compiled a list of easy steps to take to keep your fresh foods fresh as long as possible— and while it might require a bit more work, you’ll save yourself so much money in the long run.

Certain fruits and vegetables can’t be stored together— some contain a hormone called ethylene that they release as a gas, causing other fruits and vegetables to ripen too soon, spoiling them before you’re ready to eat them. Among a long list of ethylene-producing produce are apples, avocados, bananas, blueberries, tomatoes, potatoes, green onions. Among an equally-long list of those that are sensitive to ethylene are unripe bananas, cauliflower, cucumbers, strawberries, watermelon, spinach, squash, eggplant, sweet potatoes, lettuce, garlic, and kale. With this information in mind, keep things that are sensitive to ethylene away from things that produce ethylene; and if you want to make something ripen more quickly, expose it to ethylene.

Other produce should be kept in a cool, dark place like a cupboard, because they’re sensitive to light. This is why potatoes grow spuds on them if you leave them out on the counter where light can get to them. Keep potatoes, onions, and tomatoes in said cool, dark place until you’re ready to use them to keep them ripe as long as possible.

Leafy greens are always a tough and frustrating one— just when you’re ready to wash and eat them, they’ve started to rust or turn. To keep this from happening, make sure they’re dry and place them in an airtight container or plastic bag with a little bit of air. Make sure whatever vessel you put them in is sealed tight, because air will speed up their spoiling process.

If something begins to spoil, discard it immediately— otherwise it will start to spoil your other produce! Be sure that you’re only buying what you need. We create a lot of food waste simply by buying more than we can consume (and think about all of the money you’re throwing away when that whole bag of oranges grows moldy!). Be conscious with your consumption— and don’t forget that Roma’s is right around the corner with all of your fresh, local produce when you need it.

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Seasonal Produce, Brought to You by Warmer Weather

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Upstate New York has a climate that fluctuates pretty dramatically throughout the year, so if you prefer to buy your groceries with the seasons and keep it local in the process, it can get a bit limiting at certain points. That’s why spring is so exciting: We become exposed to a much wider selection of produce than we’ve had access to in months. Throughout the Spring and Summer months, the availability of fresh local produce is almost unlimited (or at least, that’s how we feel!). This is the perfect time to cultivate your appreciation for what’s in season, and take full advantage of the freshness of it all— and we’re hoping to make it a little bit easier for you!

Here are some great options in season in New York State throughout May and April:
Arugula
Spinach
Potatoes
Fava beans
Green onions
Scallions
Radishes
Asparagus
Mushrooms
Broccoli (late May)
Rhubarb (late May)
Strawberries (late May)

Closer to June, the ballgame changes a bit:
Carrots
Beets
Corn
Cabbage
Summer squash
Peas
Most of the May-April produce is also still available during this time!

In July, things take a turn for the sweeter, with much of the early Spring produce still available as well:
Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries
Apples
Cherries
Melons
Peaches
Eggplant
Tomatoes
Zucchini
Peppers
Cauliflower
Garlic

Even if you purchase things like berries and peppers year-round, we hope you’ll take advantage of the delicious locally grown ones when the time comes! Buying your food locally and with the seasons is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while ensuring that you’re eating healthy foods— and you can visit Roma’s to view our selection today!

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Roma’s Guide to Grilling Season

We’re not all crafty outdoorsmen/outdoorswomen— Not everyone can live in perfect harmony with nature, and that’s okay. But all too often, spring comes around and we get excited about the warmer weather, vowing to get outside as much as possible while we can. We eagerly anticipate the warm sun on our faces and the sweet smell of fresh-cut grass, literally itching to get out there and enjoy every second of it as soon as you have the opportunity.

And then all of the sudden, your car is buried under 6 feet of snow, and you’re left wondering how three seasons passed you by and you “really” made it outside less times than you can count on one hand.

It’s grilling season, everyone! Don’t let it pass you by. We’re here to tell you how to make the most of it, and enjoy every second— because the unfortunate truth about living in Upstate New York is that the weather is unpredictable and not always fully enjoyable, as beautiful as it is to live here (but really, in our defense, we’re known for having some of the harshest winters in the US— we deserve bragging AND complaining rights).

Plan on getting outdoors:

This means: Plan on using the grill, shucking the corn, getting herbs from the garden, and anything else you can possibly think of that gives you ample reason to get outside more. If you’re in charge of meal plans and/or cooking, plan on grilling at least a few times a week. It’s delicious, quick, and easy; and it gives you the chance to get the whole family outside (because our kids all love shucking corn so much!).

Eat outside:

Set up a dining table outdoors! We don’t all have a lot of space, but you can find something that will work for you, and it will be well worth it. There is nothing better than enjoying the sunset or some conversation while eating dinner with your family out on the deck or patio. And if you don’t have a deck or patio, set up in the driveway! As long as you’re together and enjoying each other’s company, that’s all that matters. Your whole family will appreciate and remember it.

Host cookouts— Lots of them!

What’s easier than a cookout? The answer is just about nothing. Throw some meat and veggies on the grill for a few minutes, and you’re good to go. Have your guests bring a side of some sort— we all have that one friend who’s famous for a to-die-for potato salad that vanishes before the grill’s even fired up. We always recommend that you strongly encouraging them to bring it. Use paper dishes for a super easy cleanup (just make sure you recycle them after!). These cookouts don’t have to be extravagant! The purpose is to enjoy food and get people together. You can invite 2 friends or 10 (but the more friends you invite the more food you have!)

We truly hope that you enjoy the outdoor grilling season— Amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be difficult to get outside and have the experience you’re longing for, but when you finally get to turn that grill on and unwind with family and friends, you’re creating moments that you’ll never forget. Enjoy your loved ones this grilling season— we’ll be doing the same! And if you’re looking for some fresh meat and vegetables to throw on the grill, you know that Roma’s has you covered for that; and our helpful staff is more than happy to answer any grilling questions you may have! We’ll see you next time!

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Why You Should Be Using More Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, henceforth referred to as EVOO. Either it’s a staple in your diet or you’ve got some lying around in a cupboard for the occasional tablespoon or two when a recipe calls for it. Whether you’ve heard good things or bad things about it, the point is, you’ve heard of it. We want to clear up some of the confusion surrounding EVOO— we use it extensively, and we’ve also done our research. We’re hoping that by reading this, you’ll come to know, love and understand the wonders of EVOO— if you don’t already.

Studies have shown that regions where a Mediterranean diet is followed have significantly fewer cases of heart disease, cancer, and obesity. The key ingredient in this diet? You guessed it. EVOO. Of course, there are many other factors in this diet, so to say that olive oil is the sole reason for a healthy lifestyle in these regions would be naïve. But considering the huge amounts of EVOO consumed here and the research done on the matter, there does seem to be a link between healthy hearts and this “wonder oil”.

EVOO FAQs:

What does “Extra Virgin” mean, and how is it different from its non-Extra Virgin counterparts? Contrary to popular belief, all “Extra Virgin” means in reference to olive oils is that it was pressed through mechanical means rather than chemical means. Acidity is also a factor in the classification of olive oils— EVOO has acidity levels lower than .08%. It’s also tasted before classification to ensure quality. Another important distinction between EVOO and other classifications of olive oil is that EVOO is unrefined, meaning that it hasn’t been treated for any flaws within the oil itself. Refining olive oil might remove flaws, but it also removes important antioxidants that make olive oil so healthy in the first place. If you want a quality olive oil with no added chemicals, we recommend going Extra-Virgin.

Isn’t olive oil high in fat? Yes. It is. It’s high in GOOD fats, called monounsaturated fatty acids (but they prefer to be called MUFAs). MUFAs are the key heart-healthy factor in the Mediterranean diet that we mentioned earlier! Without making this a biology class, MUFAs have tons of health benefits that lower risk factors for heart disease, while other kinds of fats increase your risk. Replacing ingredients such as butter or margarine that have trans fats and other kinds of fats that clog arteries and raise cholesterol with EVOO can be a super easy way to improve your health with very little effort. Of course, you won’t see any changes overnight, but you’re taking one step closer to a healthier lifestyle. Just make sure you’re eating foods that are high in MUFAs instead of those high in other fats, not in addition to them. And remember, everything in moderation!

What else does it do? Olive oil is literally magical. It does everything. Okay, not everything, but it really does work wonders. First, it works as an anti-inflammatory. Second, it’s a natural lubricant and moisturizer, making it great for hair, skin and nails— there are tons of people who use it regularly as a beauty product, making hair masks or skin moisturizers using olive oil as the base ingredient. You can even use it as shaving cream. Let us know if you dream up any other uses for EVOO— we’d love to hear them!

So, if you’re not using EVOO regularly, you should be— it’s great for you! And you can find olive oil in all forms right here at Roma’s :) We’ll see you soon!

Spring Clean Your Refrigerator

In our busy, everyday lives, we tend to let small and tedious tasks fall to the wayside. However, this doesn’t mean that the mediocre issues shouldn’t be addressed at some point. One such task is that of cleaning out our refrigerators. We’re all guilty of it— Our fridges, regardless of how hard we try, are almost certain to contain jars of something expired, or a spill (maybe two). As perfectly normal as this is, it’s still important to keep your fridge clean, because this is where you’re pulling your nutrition from! A clean fridge guarantees clean food and good health. We think that “spring cleaning” is a great time to address your refrigerator situation. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Warm, soapy water
  • A bucket
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Baking soda
  • Scrubby brush or tough sponge

Make sure you put all of your food into coolers while you clean your fridge, and then unplug your fridge before you start the cleaning process. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, pull the fridge away from its normal home against the wall and clean up the extra stuff that may have spilled or collected underneath. Wipe down the brackets of the fridge, its exterior, and then get started on the inside, working from the top down with the soapy water. Sprinkle baking soda and then wipe down with the cloths or sponges (the sponge/brush is great for working on tough spills). When you’re finished wiping everything down, lining the inside drawers with paper toweling isn’t a bad idea in case of extra spills in the future.

Plug the fridge back in, and let it cool down for at least an hour before putting the food back in. Organize your fridge based on what works for your household— we always recommend keeping the meats on the bottom of the fridge in case of spills that might leak into other areas. As you’re re-stocking the fridge with your current supplies, be sure to get rid of what’s expired and keep track of what to add to your shopping list, and be sure to stop by Roma’s when it’s time to replenish! Happy cleaning and happy Spring!

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The Scoop on Tahini

If you’ve ever come into Roma’s and browsed the shelves to take a mental inventory, you’ve probably noticed some pretty interesting items that you may have never heard of. Among these items one may have been tahini. Relatively high in protein, calcium and fiber and a great source of amino acids, tahini is used in a plethora of ways— everything from sauces to desserts. If you’re interested in expanding your views of the culinary world and incorporating a new ingredient into your diet, tahini may be a great option for you!

Tahini is an oil-based paste, made out of ground sesame seeds. It’s used in various cultures throughout the Eastern hemisphere, especially in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. Each one of these cultures manipulates the use of the ingredient to adapt to their culinary palette. For instance, in Iraq, tahini is used in sweet syrup with dates and eaten as a dessert; but more often than not, it’s used as a savory addition to dishes— such as its major role in the popularized hummus dip.

Considering tahini has been on the market in the United States since the 1940s, it’s interesting that commercial use of the ingredient hasn’t taken off quicker! In hopes to expedite that process, we’re supplying you with this great recipe for Baba Ganoush, a popular eggplant dip in the Mediterranean diet. However, there are so many other ways to incorporate tahini into your dishes. Tahini isn’t difficult to make on your own, but if you’d rather skip that step, we hope you’ll make Roma’s your choice when purchasing yours. Happy snacking!

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

What You’ll Need:

  • Eggplant
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Tahini
  • Sea salt

(Seriously, that’s it)

How to Prepare:

  • Slice eggplant into ¼ inch slices, sprinkle with sea salt and let dry in a colander for several minutes
  • Rub with olive oil, place on baking sheet and broil on high for 5-10 minutes, flipping halfway to even out each side
  • Remove skins of eggplant and add flesh of eggplant into food processor with juice of the lemon, garlic to taste and sea salt to taste, plus 2 tablespoons to 1/3 cup of tahini (depending on what kind of texture you want)
  • Blend until smooth and creamy
  • Serve with pita chips or veggies!
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Why Do People Eat Fish on Fridays During Lent Anyway?

So to answer the big question, we have to look into the tradition. In a nutshell, Lent is a period of 40 days lasting from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. During this time, Catholics make changes in their lives to better themselves and their spirits. One way they do this is by giving up meat on Fridays for this timespan, choosing instead to consume fish— why fish, you might ask? Why is fish any different from pork, beef, poultry or the likes? Allow us to tell you!

The explanation behind this tradition can be traced back a pretty long way. When Lent first began, many people felt that meat from land-dwelling animals simply tasted better than fish, and for this reason it was more expensive to purchase. This led to meat being considered a luxury, while in contrast, fish was fish was readily available, cheap, and easy to catch. For this reason, it was considered a “poor man’s” food. Without a luxurious stigma, the Catholic population turned to fish as a substitute for meat in their meals on these days as a means of donning a simpler lifestyle.

While the tradition of Lent echoes a culture that has since changed and fish no longer has such a stigma, it does represent a deeply rooted value in Catholic history. Here at Roma’s, we are pleased to offer alternatives for those observing, but our seafood option is delicious even for those who simply got a hankering for fish while reading this!

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Why Do People Eat Fish on Fridays During Lent Anyway?

So to answer the big question, we have to look into the tradition. In a nutshell, Lent is a period of 40 days lasting from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday. During this time, Catholics make changes in their lives to better themselves and their spirits. One way they do this is by giving up meat on Fridays for this timespan, choosing instead to consume fish— why fish, you might ask? Why is fish any different from pork, beef, poultry or the likes? Allow us to tell you!

The explanation behind this tradition can be traced back a pretty long way. When Lent first began, many people felt that meat from land-dwelling animals simply tasted better than fish, and for this reason it was more expensive to purchase. This led to meat being considered a luxury, while in contrast, fish was fish was readily available, cheap, and easy to catch. For this reason, it was considered a “poor man’s” food. Without a luxurious stigma, the Catholic population turned to fish as a substitute for meat in their meals on these days as a means of donning a simpler lifestyle.

While the tradition of Lent echoes a culture that has since changed and fish no longer has such a stigma, it does represent a deeply rooted value in Catholic history. Here at Roma’s, we are pleased to offer alternatives for those observing, but our seafood option is delicious even for those who simply got a hankering for fish while reading this!

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