Tomato paste substitute – Tomato-based dishes are quite diversified and go from basic soups and sauces to sophisticated stews. All in all, you can always find a need for tomato paste, hence the necessity of always having it around.
Running out of tomato paste can be frustrating though, especially if it happens while you’re already cooking. Luckily, it’s a versatile ingredient that leaves room for imagination. A little research will work wonders and can provide an excellent tomato paste substitute. But before going there, make sure you understand the most common uses of regular paste.
Understanding What Tomato Paste Actually Is
Tomato paste is a thick sauce made of pure tomatoes. To plenty of people, there are no differences between paste, sauce, and puree. However, the paste goes in the middle – not as watery as the sauce, but also not as concentrated and thick as the puree. The taste is rich, while the texture is thick and deep red. Its consistency makes it ideal for a series of dishes, especially as it’s flexible and can be diluted with water for a watery texture.
Most people buy tomato paste from the local grocery store. There are a series of brands out there. However, you can also make your own paste at home without too much hassle. When making your own paste, make sure you have just enough for a couple of days or it will go off.
This is the main reason wherefore people choose the one from stores – more preservatives and a longer shelf life. They do sacrifice on taste though since the homemade sauce is richer and tastes fresher.
Tomato Paste Substitute Options
Now, if somehow it happens to run out of it, finding a good tomato paste substitute is a must. So, what options do you have?
1. Tomato Sauce or Puree
Tomato sauce is the watery sibling of paste, while puree is the concentrated version. Any of these choices makes a good tomato paste substitute because you can easily achieve the desired consistency. If you have tomato sauce, you’ll need to simmer it in a saucepan for a few minutes. If you have puree, just add some water and mix until you obtain the perfect texture.
Related: Tomato puree substitute
Not knowing the replacement ratio can ruin your dish by overwhelming it with tomato flavors. Keep in mind that for every few tablespoons of sauce or puree you have, you will obtain about one tablespoon of tomato paste, so do the math upfront.
2. Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are just as handy when looking for a tomato paste substitute. Their shelf life goes up to a few years, so you can easily store them around your kitchen to prevent unexpected situations. Empty the contents of a can in a bowl, then drain the excess liquid.
See also: Best Canned Chili
Simmer the tomatoes until you obtain the texture of tomato paste. If they’re not properly crushed, but chopped, you might have to crush tomatoes yourself. Just place them in a blender and give them a minute. Furthermore, you are free to enhance the aroma by adding various herbs and even vegetables.
Based on tomatoes, ketchup is by far the most accessible tomato paste substitute. After all, everyone has a squeezable tube in their refrigerators. Ketchup is also quite diversified. For example, you can simmer it until you obtain the consistency of a sauce, but also mix it with water and herbs if it’s too thick.
If you’re not the type to improvise, keep in mind that you can use ketchup as it is too. Just add as much as you need to your dish. As for the replacement ratio, use 1:1 – add one cup of ketchup for one cup of tomato sauce in the recipe.
Even if you don’t feel like adding spices and herbs, basil is quite essential, so sprinkle a bit on top.
4. Tomato soup
Tomato soup may not be the best choice to substitute tomato paste, but it can work if you don’t have other options. The main drawback is that tomato soup is usually sweet, so you’ll have to make some adjustments. Keep the proportions in place though and don’t forget to count the excessive liquid.
See also: Best Canned Clam Chowder Soup
In the end, given the wide variety of tomato-related choices on the market, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a tomato paste substitute in your kitchen. Make sure you adapt the recipe accordingly though.