This is a recipe for how to use tomato paste as a replacement for canned tomato. It’s a recipe I created during the COVID pandemic lockdown here in Sydney, Australia, during which supermarket shelves were emptied of canned foods including canned tomato (crushed, diced etc).
Background – COVID and the canned tomato shortage
When the COVID Pandemic first hit the shores of Australia and Sydney went into lockdown in March 2020, grocery store shelves were cleared of long shelf life items with a rush of panic buying. Things like pasta, dried beans, rice and all manner of canned goods.
While canned tomato was one such item that was always sold out, tomato paste was still widely available.
Because canned tomato is a key ingredient in so many recipes, from Bolognese to soups, pasta bakes to stews, pies to curries, I decided to come up with a way to substitute tomato paste for canned tomatoes.
To substitute tomato paste for canned tomato, you need to cook it with water and flour to achieve the same consistency and flavour.
How to substitute tomato paste for canned tomato
Mix 4 tablespoons of tomato paste with 1 1/2 cups of water , 1 1/2 tablespoons flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. It will be watery when “raw” but once added into a dish like Bolognese, it thickens as it cooks (it only takes 3 minutes to thicken).
This makes 400 grams (14 oz) which equates to 1 standard can of tomato.
And it tastes just like using canned tomato!
How to use it
Use in recipes that call for any canned tomato – diced, crushed – OR tomato passata. Add it at the time the recipe calls for the canned tomato to be added. Cook it just like it’s normal canned tomato!
Just some background info – for those interested!
Why it isn’t just water + tomato paste
Tomato paste is thicker and more sour than canned tomato. And though one might assume you can just use a big dollop of tomato paste + water in the place of a can of tomato, you can’t. You will end up with either:
- It’s too thin and the flavour is too weak; or
- It’s thick enough and tomatoey enough, but it’s way too sour.
So in order to “make” canned tomato using tomato paste, you need to loosen it with water, but then thicken it with flour.
Why you need sugar
Because tomato paste is sour!
Why I’m sharing it now – even though the Sydney lockdown finishes months ago
Because sadly, our friends in Victoria have entered into Pandemic Lockdown 2.0 as a result of which people are stocking up, making some popular ingredients like canned tomato difficult to obtain. And a reader specifically asked in my “Pandemic Cooking Hotline” how to use tomato paste in place of canned tomato – so I’m sharing my recipe.
I hope you find it useful! – Nagi x
Tomato paste replacement for canned tomato
Once cooked into a dish, no one will ever be able to tell that you used tomato paste instead of canned tomato!
Recipe makes 400g/14oz which is one standard can of tomato.
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 1.5 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups water , separated
- 1.5 tsp sugar
Whisk together 1/4 cup water (65ml) with the flour until lump free.
Then mix in remaining water, tomato paste and sugar.
How to use it
Use in recipes in place of canned tomato, add it at the time the recipe calls for canned tomato to be added. It will be watery while it’s “raw”, but the flour will thicken the mixture as it cooks in things like bolognese, soup (like Minestrone), curries (like this Coconut Lentil Curry) and pasta bakes.
Pictures in post show the thickness after cooking on stove for 3 minutes on medium high – not necessary to do if added into a recipe then cooked.
There is no limit for how long it can be cooked for – you can use it for a quick recipe like this Bacon Pasta, or simmered for hours like in Ragu.
Fridge storing – will keep for 5 days in the fridge.
Freezing – simmer 3 minutes on medium high, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Cool, freeze.
Life of Dozer
Throwback to puppy Dozer. He was a VERY cute puppy!
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