Ways To Use Your Canned Tomatoes All Year Round

published Aug 15, 2014
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Plate of spaghetti with sauce and meatballs
(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

All week long, I’ve been talking about summer tomatoes and the various ways to preserve them so that you can eat them all year round. And truly, I think that there’s no better gift to yourself and your family than a pantry shelf full of home canned tomatoes.

However, new canners often find that once they’ve put all that work in putting up those tomatoes, they have a hard time getting themselves to open up those jars and eat the fruits of their labor. Here are some of my favorite ways to transform jars of tomatoes into easy weeknight meals.

(Image credit: Marisa McClellan)

Ways to Use Whole Peeled Tomatoes

  • 5-Minute Tomato Soup: Chop an onion and sauté it in bit of butter. Empty a quart of tomatoes into a blender and pulse them into a chunky puree. Add it to the buttery onions and cook until thick. Add salt, pepper, and torn basil to taste and eat with crackers or grilled cheese.
  • Roasted Tomato Toasts: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Drain a quart of tomatoes and put them on a parchment lined baking sheet with a few garlic cloves in their skins. Drizzle them with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes darken and turn jammy. Rub the garlic into sturdy toasted bread and top with the roasted garlic.
  • Easy Weeknight Vegetable Soup: Cook up a pot of your favorite empty-the-crisper soup (here’s mine). Pull apart your canned tomatoes and drop hunks into the cooking soup for brightness.

Ways to Use Tomato Puree

  • Marcella Hazan’s Pasta Sauce: Make Marcella Hazan’s pasta sauce with butter and an onion cut in half. Serve with meatballs and braised kale.
  • Tomato-Braised Chicken: Combine the puree in the blender with a chopped yellow onion, a couple cloves of garlic, a handful of cilantro, and a generous pinch of salt. Blend until mostly smooth. Place a couple pounds of chicken thighs in a big pot and pour the contents of the blender on top. Cook until the meat shreds. Use as enchilada or taco filling.
  • Tortilla Soup: Cook up a batch of tortilla soup!

Ways to Use Rotel-Style Tomatoes

  • Queso Dip: Make up a batch of queso dip for your next party.
  • Chicken and Rice: Scatter 3/4 cup brown rice on the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish. Arrange two pounds of chicken legs on top. Add one 12-ounce jar of Rotel-style tomatoes, 1 half cup of chicken stock, and a generous pinch of salt. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F for 50 to 55 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and the rice is cooked.
  • Burrito Bowls: Invite friends over for a burrito bowl party. Make a large pot of rice, heat some black beans, grate some cheddar cheese, and make guacamole. Warm a jar or two of the Rotel-style tomatoes and invite people to make their own meal!

What’s Tomato Preserving 2.0?

When it comes to tomatoes, perhaps you’ve got the basics covered. You’ve made fresh tomato sauce, or roasted them, or thrown a bag in the freezer for easy peeling and sauce-making later. So what’s next?

This week Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars is guiding us through Tomato Preserving 2.0 — cooking lessons and good ideas for when you’re ready to move on to the next level of preserving tomatoes.

Learn the Basics