What’s the Best Substitute for Tomato Paste?
Have you ever experienced running out of tomato paste while in the middle of preparing a meal? You are not alone! It is very easy to forget to stock up on the ingredient, and sometimes you will have to improvise. The best substitutes for tomato paste that will be discussed in this article yields the same results if not better to the meal you are preparing. By the end of this article, your inner creative chef will be unleashed, and you’ll no longer fret when you find out you’re out of tomato paste.
What Is Tomato Paste?
Tomato paste is different from tomato sauce, in that it is made up of only concentrated tomatoes. It is prepared by cooking the tomatoes and straining it to form a dense paste void of preservatives. The method used in making the paste results in a rich, unique flavor that is difficult to recreate but not impossible. The quality of the tomato paste will determine whether your meal will be a hit or miss, so it’s essential to pick a good one. It is possible to find a tomato paste alternative, and it is not as hard as you may think. There are even recipes available for you to make homemade tomato paste.
What Can I Substitute For Tomato Paste?
- Tomato sauce: This similar to tomato paste, except it has higher water content, and it’s also thinner. This allows you to turn it into a paste with a little boiling in a saucepan. You will also need to use double the amount to get a concentrated amount like a paste. This substitute for tomato paste works for when you are preparing lasagna, chili, and spaghetti sauces. It also works well for stews, soups, and meatloaf.
- Canned or Chopped Tomatoes: These are another great way to make tomato paste aside the fact that they are packed with juice. The flavor will change when you use chopped or canned tomatoes as a sub for tomato paste, and so you’ll have to alter the cooking method. It is better to drain the tomatoes and smash them to make it quicker to cook. You can also include any spices of your choice to the vegetables to give it the flavor you desire. Just like other substitutes with a thin consistency, you will need to double the amount used to get the concentrated amount you need.
- Fresh Tomatoes: This is very similar to using canned tomatoes except that you will have to do some work due to the skin and seeds. A simple way to peel and remove the seeds from the vegetable is to use a food mill. You will also need to include spices of your choice to get the flavor. Due to the water content, you will also have to allow the tomatoes to simmer to get a paste. One large tomato should give you a tablespoon of tomato paste.
- Ketchup: Ketchup is challenging to use as a tomato paste substitute because it has a thin consistency, and the preservatives might affect the flavor of your dish. It might not work on its own and can be mixed with tomato sauce in making the tomato paste replacement. The mixture will provide the thickness you need, and you will get the same bold flavor like that in tomato paste. You can also include fresh tomatoes instead of the tomato sauce to achieve the thickness. To adjust the overall taste of the mixture, you can customize it by adding onions, garlic, and other spices to achieve your desired flavor. Ketchup is favorable when the dish you are preparing requires a lot of spices.
How To Prepare Homemade Tomato Paste
With Tomato Sauce:
- Pour one can of tomato sauce into a saucepan
- Place it over medium heat and allow to simmer
- Continuously stir while it is simmering to ensure an even consistency
- Let it simmer for about seven minutes or until when there is a visible reduction in the water content
Tips: An eight-ounce can of paste gives you three to four ounces of paste, while a 15-ounce can of paste gives you six to seven ounces. Use a splatter screen to prevent any splashes and burn. Do not cover the saucepan so that the water can evaporate to retain the essence and achieve thickness.
With Fresh Tomatoes:
- Preheat the oven over 350°F heat for a few minutes
- While waiting, chop up the fresh tomatoes (you can decide to remove all the seeds or skin at this stage)
- Place the diced tomatoes in a saucepan and add some olive oil
- Allow it to simmer and cook until the tomatoes become soft (you can decide to remove the seeds and skin at this point since they naturally come off. You can use a food mill to ease up the process)
- Add some spices to the remaining pulp
- Spread the pulp onto separate baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven set to 350°F
- Check the pulp every 30 minutes and stir to achieve an even consistency
- When the tomatoes have been reduced, you can combine them for easier cooking
- Once the mixture is finished cooking, it should turn thick and dense with a shiny dark red color and should not contain any water
There is no need to panic after finding out you don’t have tomato paste to continue the meal you have already started preparing. If you have some basic ingredients around, you will be able to make a homemade substitute in a matter of minutes. Ingredients like ketchup, fresh or canned tomatoes, or tomato sauce are suitable for transforming into tomato paste for your meals. They contain the essential component and can also be customized or tweaked to your liking. Bring out your inner chef with the easy to follow recipes outlined in the article.