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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Basic Ingredients with Multiple Uses: Canned Tomato Paste


I've mentioned a couple of times that I use canned tomato paste in cooking. I bring this up again because tomato paste typically goes on sale in late summer and early fall as retailers clear out last season's canned goods to make room for this season's. I have found tomato paste to be so valuable for our meals. It's one of those foods that you may see on a shelf in the grocery store and wonder what it's used for or who buys it.


My mom always made spaghetti sauce with canned tomato paste, a spaghetti seasoning packet, ground beef, chopped onion, and water. A 6-oz can of tomato paste made enough pasta sauce for 3 to 5 people. When I began cooking on my own, I followed my mom's example and bought the seasoning mix and canned tomato paste. After a few years of making sauce this way, I figured out that I really didn't need the seasoning mix but could add garlic, salt, and a combination of oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, and/or savory, saving some money while making a pasta sauce that was more flavorful than the seasoning packet could ever be. This was my introduction to tomato paste. Now it's a staple in my pantry.

Here are some of the ways that I use tomato paste.

1) Pasta sauce -- as mentioned above, pasta sauce can be made with a seasoning packet and tomato paste or with tomato paste, meat, onions, herbs, red pepper, garlic, salt, and any veggies that I want to incorporate.

2) Pizza sauce -- here's my standard pizza sauce using tomato paste, garlic, salt, oregano, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Scoop 1/4 to 1/3 cup of tomato paste into a microwaveable 8-oz measuring cup. Add 1 clove of garlic minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder), 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon finely crushed oregano, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a pinch of sugar, then mix it all in. Next, slowly incorporate enough water to bring the sauce up to the 1-cup mark. Microwave for 1 minute. There's your super quick pizza sauce, ready to top 1 large pizza in under 5 minutes. In a pinch, I use this for pasta sauce, although I think adding onion, meat, and additional herbs is nicer for a pasta sauce.

3) Tomato soup and the tomato base for other soups or stews, such as minestrone, chili, or beef stew -- how I make tomato soup from tomato paste can be found in the comments of this post. Scroll down to my response to Christa. It's delicious, easy to make, and cheap, cheap, cheap.

4) Ketchup -- my homemade ketchup is simply tomato paste, vinegar, onions (or onion powder), sugar, salt, lemon juice, and water. Some recipes, (like this one on Top Secret Recipes), also call for corn syrup and garlic powder, and skip the lemon juice. Lemon is just my preference in tomato-based dishes.

5) Tomato juice -- we love tomato juice and tomato-vegetable juice in our home. The homemade variety can be as simple as tomato paste, water, salt, plus, if desired, a pinch of onion powder and a dash of hot sauce. (Tomato paste to water ratio  -- 1:4) Stir it all together and serve over ice.

6) Tomato paste salsa -- such as this recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation which calls for both fresh tomatoes and tomato paste. Tomato paste can thicken any salsa which is too thin, adding rich tomato flavor in the process.

7) Tomato sauce -- if your recipe calls for canned tomato sauce and what you have is tomato paste, you can combine 1 cup of water with 3/4 cup of tomato paste. Stir in a pinch of sugar, some salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Voila, tomato sauce.


Tomato paste is almost always less expensive than these prepared foods that I make myself. It's a real budget-extender for us.

20 comments:

live and learn said...

Mostly, I use tomato paste in tomato dishes as a thickener. When your mother made spaghetti sauce did she use only tomato paste with the other ingredients? I just made a big batch of spaghetti sauce with tomato paste, but other versions of tomatoe,s also.

I gonna have to do some rethinking about using tomato paste as the main/only ingredient in things.

Lona said...

Thank you for this great information!

Anonymous said...

I thought I was an old hand, but I learn so much from your blog! I don't often comment, but I always read and just want you to know how much I appreciate you.

Phyllis

Frugal in the USA said...

I tend to find tomato sauce and canned tomatoes st salvage grocery stores. When I find paste I also buy that to up the tomato flavor in some dishes. During the winter I drain chopped tomatoes and use in salads. Much more flavor than winter tomatoes sold in stores.

Lili said...

live and learn said...
When your mother made spaghetti sauce did she use only tomato paste with the other ingredients? I just made a big batch of spaghetti sauce with tomato paste, but other versions of tomatoe,s also.


Hi live and learn,
so those seasoning mix packets for making spaghetti sauce have instructions on the back that call for beef, tomato paste, and water plus the packet contents. I think that's it. That is how my mother always made spaghetti sauce, and that's how I began, myself. Using a mix packet is definitely simple.
Your spaghetti sauce with extra ingredients sounds delicious. Personally, I like lots of chunks in my sauce, so I will add any leftover veggies that we happen to have on hand, as well as the tomato paste and herbs, spices, onions, garlic, and salt.

Lili said...

You're welcome, Lona!

Lili said...

Thank you, Phyllis. Your kind words are very appreciated today!

Lili said...

Frugal in the USA said...
I tend to find tomato sauce and canned tomatoes st salvage grocery stores. When I find paste I also buy that to up the tomato flavor in some dishes. During the winter I drain chopped tomatoes and use in salads. Much more flavor than winter tomatoes sold in stores.


Hi Frugal in the USA,
Using drained, chopped canned tomatoes in salad in winter is an excellent idea! Do you ever oven-roast canned tomatoes? I use canned whole tomatoes, cut in half and roast them in the oven. They are so delicious! Here's how I make mine:

Oven-Roasted Canned Tomatoes

Thanks for your tip for salads in winter!

CTMOM said...

Lili, I am intrigued with this. Can you share your paste to water ratios for making a simple marinara (I often use little, if no meat in pasta sauce). If you have a 6 oz can of paste, how much water would be needed? one can? two? Any direction you can give is appreciated. Thanks,
Carol in CT
CTonabudget on Facebook

Lili said...

CTMOM said...
Can you share your paste to water ratios for making a simple marinara (I often use little, if no meat in pasta sauce). If you have a 6 oz can of paste, how much water would be needed? one can? two? Any direction you can give is appreciated.


Hi Carol,
If you used a 6 oz can of tomato paste, I would try just under 2 cups of water, which would be a little more than 2 cans of water. When I make pizza sauce, I use a 1:2 (paste:water) ratio for a thick sauce or 1:3 for a thin sauce. If you add the water in parts, stirring in between additions, you could see if the thickness was about what you like without having to boil it down (after adding too much water). Lawry's mix packet calls for 2 1/4 cups of water for 1 6 oz can of tomato paste. However, the packets have thickeners (in the form of corn starch), so more water is used than if making sauce without a thickener.

I hope this helps.

CTMOM said...

Lili, thanks for the follow up, very helpful, indeed. I am wrapping up what I coined "Austere August" and preparing now for "Scrimpy September" as I've had to absorb unexpected Vet bills.

Lili said...

Wishing you well, Carol, with the month of September. I'm sorry to hear about your unexpected vet bills.

CTMOM said...

HI Lili, We used my last can of tomato soup at lunch today, so I am coming back with another question for you. I wish to my home made cream of tomato soup. I now have 6 oz cans of tomato paste, at your suggestion, as well as pint of my home canned, quartered tomatoes and tomato sauce. How would I go about making tomato soup (probably subbing in milk for any water/broth called for)? I looked on your blog, couldn't find anything. THanks in advance. Carol

Lili said...

Hi Carol,
I do occasionally make the tomato soup as a "cream of" soup. Just sub milk for about half of the water or stock when making the soup. One 6-oz can of tomato paste should make about 24 to 30 ounces of soup. Don't leave it to cook for a long time, though, as the acid in the tomato paste can cause the milk solids to separate. It's delicious and turns a vegetable-based soup into something with protein and calcium.

CTMOM said...

Do you have a recipe to direct me to? TIA

CTMOM said...

Thanks for your help. Please consider joining my blog on Facebook, you are a great resource. I've sent you an invite thru your gmail, assuming you still have that account (listed on your blog). If not interested, no worries. Thanks again.

Lili said...

Hi Carol,
Thank you for the FB invite. The link keeps redirecting me back to my creative savv FB page, and I can't find a way to get to your FB. I'll keep working on it and maybe set up another FB page as a personal one.

Okay, so I can get to your page through one of your likes on my FB, but I don't see an option to join or even like your page. From what I understand, this is a fault of website or business FB pages. I will keep looking around later this evening. Don't give up on me, Ha ha!

CTMOM said...

There is what looks to be a personal FB page for you. It includes what I assume is your maiden name. Not much on it, but a pic of your twins, who I recognize, a young man (son?) and an older woman-your mom? I can send an invite (I think using that FB page) Let me know if you want me to.

Lili said...

Hi, thanks, Carol. It looks like everything is good, now. That is my personal page. It's for me to connect with my cousins and siblings. The older woman is my step-mom. And the other 3 my kids. I set up a second personal page using my alternate email for creativesavv, so that I could connect with your group. I think it all worked out.

CTMOM said...

It did! So happy you joined!

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