A quick glance into most pantries will reveal more than one can of tomatoes, from run-of-the-mill diced tomatoes to the coveted San Marzano variety. But after stockpiling everything from crushed tomatoes to tomato sauce on grocery trips, it’s normal to ask what recipes to make with canned tomatoes.
The pantry staple is more popular than one might think. According to Alec Wasson, the “chief tomato evangelist” at the Tomato Products Wellness Council, canned tomatoes are ranked the most popular canned food in the U.S. In fact, a recent study showed that 211.5 million Americans used canned tomatoes in 2020, with that number expected to rise to 218 million per year by 2024.
Wasson shares that canned tomatoes are healthier than raw tomatoes, even during tomato season, thanks to the heating process that all canned tomatoes go through for preservation. “They don’t use additives or preservatives, they’re just cooked to make them shelf-stable, and that’s what makes the antioxidant lycopene two to three times more bioavailable [in canned tomatoes than in fresh],” says Wasson. “Lycopene is pretty incredible and is linked to decreasing inflammation, cardiovascular disease and even several forms of cancer, especially prostate cancer.”
But what are the best recipes to make with canned tomatoes? And how can home cooks break into their pantry stash and prepare a delicious meal? Yahoo Life spoke with chefs and tomato enthusiasts about the best uses for canned tomatoes.
How to use canned tomatoes
Whether you use canned tomatoes frequently or are looking to start incorporating them more into your diet, they’re always good to have on hand. “Canned tomatoes are a great way to cut down on food waste,” says Wasson. “They’re the perfect serving size for most meals, they won’t go bad if you don’t use them right away and you can create a lot of meals using them.”
Canned tomatoes are the key ingredient in many delicious meals and recipes, from salsa to pizza. Chef Willie Mike, a contestant on MasterChef: Back to Win, says he, “doesn’t know anyone who doesn’t use canned tomatoes.”
For Mike, canned tomatoes are a staple in his okra and tomatoes with shrimp and sausage recipe. Like anything in the kitchen, Mike says to make canned tomatoes taste good, home cooks should, “show respect and put a lot of love into whatever they are making.”
Richard LaMarita, is chef-instructor of health-supportive culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, and recommends using canned tomatoes to make salsa, soup and tomato sauce. “Canned diced tomatoes are excellent for salsa, but you must drain the excess liquid first,” says LaMarita. “Canned tomato paste can be used as the base for pasta sauce if you add a bit of liquid to loosen the sauce and some fresh herbs to boost the flavor.”
Looking to try a new recipe using canned tomatoes? LaMarita says you can’t go wrong with this Vegetable Curry recipe, courtesy of the Institute of Culinary Education.
Courtesy of the Institute of Culinary Education
Yields 8-10 servings.
2 pounds potato (about 2 potatoes), peeled, medium dice
2 pounds butternut squash (1 large), medium dice
2 pounds cauliflower (1 large head), florets
6 tablespoons ghee
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, ground
½ teaspoon fenugreek, ground
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds, ground
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ pound onion (about 1 medium onion), small dice
3 garlic cloves, small dice
2-inch piece fresh ginger, small dice
2 chilies, small dice
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, pureed
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
4 tablespoons cilantro, sliced into ribbons
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Toss potato, butternut squash and cauliflower separately with 2 tablespoons coconut oil each and a sprinkle of salt. Roast vegetables until done. Set aside.
2. Combine coriander, cumin, fenugreek, brown mustard, turmeric and cinnamon.
3. Sweat onion, garlic, ginger and chilies until softened in wide sauté pan. Add spice blend with a little water to make into a paste and cook out for 5 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and cook until the sauce thickens. Add peas and cook for a few minutes.
5. Add roasted vegetables into the pan and toss. Finish with cilantro and serve.
Hungry for more? Here are more recipes using canned tomatoes to try at home, from tomato soup to tomato sauce.
1. Tomato Salsa
This restaurant-style salsa recipe uses canned tomatoes and is guaranteed to taste as fresh as your favorite Mexican restaurant.
2. Spicy Marinara Sauce
San Marzano DOP tomatoes, a high-end variety of tomato from Italy, are used to create this spicy sauce.
3. Pasta Pomodoro
4. Pressure Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice
5. West African Vegetarian Jollof Rice
6. Pressure Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
7. One Dish Chicken Bake
Whether you prefer feta cheese or fresh mozzarella, sprinkle some on top of this one-dish chicken bake filled with canned tomatoes.
8. Roasted Tomato, Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Looking to enjoy some summer tomatoes? Opt for this flavorful salsa recipe loaded with canned tomatoes, scallions and cilantro.
9. Tomato Soup
You can’t have grilled cheese without tomato soup. Use this recipe to create a pot of this nostalgic childhood favorite.
10. Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce
There’s nothing better than fresh tomato sauce. When you don’t have time to stand in front of the stovetop all day, follow this slow cooker recipe with canned tomatoes as the key ingredient.
11. Tomato Stew
Use canned tomatoes to create this classic dish from the comfort of your own home in less than an hour.
Seafood lovers can rejoice with this mussels recipe featuring a delicious and flavorful canned tomato base.
13. Tomatoes and Dumplings
This recipe has been passed down for generations and its key ingredient is canned tomatoes.
14. Southwest Tamale Pie
Add some red pepper flakes to this tamale pie filled with crushed canned tomatoes, ground beef and cornbread mix.
15. Tomato Basil Coconut Chickpea Curry
A vegan recipe that combines canned tomatoes, chickpeas and coconut milk to create a flavorful dinnertime meal.
16. Chicken Parmesan Chili
A chili recipe for those craving a hearty dish made with canned tomatoes, ricotta cheese and cannellini beans.
17. Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats
Taco Tuesday just got better with these spaghetti boats loaded with ground turkey, canned tomatoes and bell peppers.
18. Cabbage Lasagna
A twist on traditional lasagna with cabbage instead of pasta and a sweet tomato sauce made from canned tomatoes.
19. One Pot Pepperoni with Cod
This recipe is perfect for summer with its fish base and fresh tomato puree with black pepper, salt, lemon, olive oil and parsley.
20. Stuffed Peppers
Both dairy-free and gluten-free, whip up a batch of these stuffed peppers filled to the brim with cauliflower rice, canned tomatoes and onions.
21. Turkish Pide
Recreate a classic Turkish dish made with a ground beef and canned tomato base. For the dough, either make it from scratch or buy a favorite bread bowl.
Wake up in the morning to a delicious dish that combines eggs, canned tomatoes and paprika. The best part? It takes less than 20 minutes to make.
23. Spinach and Ricotta Pots
Sweet and savory are two words to describe these spinach and ricotta pots loaded with chia seeds and eggs. Sprinkle some fresh basil on top for added flavor.
Recreate this traditional Greek dish that serves up to eight people, making it a go-to for family dinners and holidays.
25. Baked Farro Vegan Casserole
If you like barley or wheat, you’ll love this farro casserole made with canned tomatoes, shallots and walnuts.
26. Baked Ratatouille
Add more vegetables to your diet with this baked ratatouille made from a mix of canned tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, goat cheese and basil pesto.
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