Fantastic Replacements For Tomato Paste That Are Simple


There are some cooking troubles that everyone can relate to. Have you ever set out to make your favorite recipe and found that you are missing one of the key ingredients? The one ingredient that is supposed to add an essential flavor or bind the other ingredients together? It has happened to all of us, no matter how well prepared. It can certainly put a serious wrench in your culinary pursuits and make your cooking experience a hassle.

When you do find yourself without that one ingredient, you may be up the river without a paddle. Just run to the store you say? While there are times that you may be able to run out to the store and pick up the missing components to your culinary masterpiece, there are other times when you can’t. Such as those moments when you don’t have the time to run out to the store. Or even the times when you just don’t feel like it.

One thing you can do to prepare for situations like this is by increasing your cooking toolbox. You can bolster your cooking skills by learning alternatives to ingredients that will work in a pinch. These replacement skills will help make you a more intuitive cook in the kitchen. You will have the ability to think on your feet and solve problems as they arise. You will also be able to hold your own when you get onto a food network competition show some day. Mystery ingredients and challenges won’t stop you if you keep your skills sharp.

Today we are going to talk about alternatives to one very useful ingredient, tomato paste. Tomato paste is used in a wide variety of recipes from various kinds of cuisine. It can be the linchpin in a number of different recipes. There are many reasons tomato paste is added to a dish.

Tomato paste adds a strong tomato flavor to your dish. This flavor can be quite integral to the flavor profile of some meals. There are certain dishes that would not be the same without its flavor, but what if you can still get that flavor without tomato paste?

The second big thing that tomato paste can do for a dish is to thicken it. For soups and sauces, being too watery can really leave your meal high and dry. Well, maybe not so dry, but more like sopping wet. No one likes spaghetti floating in a soup or marinara that pours like tomato juice. Those things need a thickening agent, but, if you have no tomato paste there is still hope.

Another thing that tomato paste does for your dish is to add acidity. Cooking is all about balance. Acids are a big player in food dish dance and balance. There are other options that you can opt for to introduce this balance even if you find yourself without tomato paste.

That is why it can be important to find an alternative to this important ingredient. Although there are many reasons why tomato paste is used, knowing why tomato paste is desired in a dish helps in selecting the replacement. Also, the reasoning behind replacing the item can factor in. If you simply don’t have the paste you may have a different solution than needing to replace it due to allergies.

If you are simply missing tomato paste, you may opt to replace the tomato paste with tomato puree or tomato sauce. By boiling these ingredients you can concentrate and thicken them up so that they will more accurately duplicate the effects of the tomato paste.

If it is the flavor component that you are missing from your dish, you can make do with ketchup as well. Ketchup does have a thinner consistency so it may not work well to thicken your dish, but it can provide you with some of that tomato flavor.

You can also use stewed or chopped tomatoes. These will introduce a thicker, chunkier texture, but will still provide a tomato flavor. They may not work amazingly in sauces, but in chilis and other similar dishes, they may work perfectly fine.

If your recipe calls for both tomato paste and water you can substitute out the tomato paste for tomato sauce and skip adding the water. This sometimes happens in recipes that call for marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce.

If the reason you are replacing tomato paste is due to an allergy, your solutions may be quite different.  

One solution to tomato paste is crushed red pepper, or red pepper puree. The flavor may be slightly different but you can get a similar consistency by concentrating the puree through boiling.

When making a red pepper puree, make sure to remove the seeds and dice the pepper into small pieces before pureeing in a blender. Make sure to boil the puree to evaporate the excess liquid. Be prepared for the taste to differ, as red pepper is not going to give you a tomato flavor at all. But it will add good color and help thicken the sauce.

Romesco sauce is a red pepper based sauce that can be swapped out for a number of tomato sauces and treated much the same. It can also be reduced to add to the thickness. The one thing that red pepper solutions lack is the added element of acidity. You may find your dish lacking that zing if you do not make up for that missing component elsewhere.

If red pepper is not an option, you can also puree other vegetables. Squash is a viable option. There are many kinds of squash; try out different types to see what works for you. Many people like butternut squash, mostly because it is delicious, but also because it works well in dishes.

Alternatively, there are products on the market that can be used to make tomato-less cooking simple and manageable. There is a line of products called “nomato” that offer a number of tomato substitute products including sauce, ketchup, and a barbecue sauce. These sauces use carrots, beets, onions, and lemon juice to make a tomato-like flavor without any actual tomato. Reducing a nomato sauce is very similar to reducing a tomato sauce and it yields similar thickness results. The nomato also utilizes lemon to bring back the acidity you may be missing. 

Helen Harris

Helen’s your eternally cheerful, next-door suburban mom that genuinely enjoys sharing with the whole neighborhood her latest fresh-from-the-oven culinary creations. She’s also a treasure trove of kitchen hacks and DIY advice if you have the patience to listen to her life story on repeat and the latest news on her son, Marv, and on how great he’s doing on the college football team. Fortunately, she agreed to leave her kitchen wisdom in writing as well when one of our editors with saintlike patience asked her to.

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