Tomato paste is made from fresh tomatoes that have been cooked down and down and down some more. Maillard reactions from the long cooking give the paste an intense, umami-rich flavor. When used in cooking, tomato paste works as a flavor-booster by adding its own deep savory notes and enhancing the other flavors in the dish.
A little goes a long way with tomato paste, which is why recipes typically only call for a tablespoon or two. If you're making a sauce or a soup, stir the paste into the vegetables along with the other seasonings just before you add the liquids. Tomato paste can also be whisked into a salad dressing or marinade, or even spread thinly on a sandwich like mustard.
You can find tomato paste sold in cans or in tubes. The cans are great for when we need a lot of paste at once, but any unused paste needs to be used or frozen within a week or two. The tomato paste in tubes is protected from the air and keeps for much longer if we're just using a tablespoon at a time. If you find yourself with a glut of tomatoes, you can even try your hand at making your own.
Here are a few recipes that put tomato paste to good use:
• Sweet and Tangy Homemade BBQ Sauce • Eggplant Caponata Sandwiches • Tomato Cilantro Shrimp • Roasted Red Kuri Pumpkin and Coconut Soup • Braised Lamb Shanks and Root Vegetable Puree
Do you ever cook with tomato paste?
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