The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taught us a few things. Not just about the importance of hygiene (which should definitely be maintained, pandemic or not), but also about cooking. Since some of us spend most of our time working from home, it has become a common sight to do or experiment with our own cooking. Besides, relying heavily on online food delivery is going to take a toll on our daily finance one way or another. Back to the cooking, we are sure that most of us would prefer to stock up on some canned food. And if you happen to have some canned tomatoes in your kitchen pantry, it’s time to make good use of them. That being said, here are the 8 Ways You Can Cook With Canned Tomatoes.
1) Tomato Fried Rice
Incorporating tomatoes into fried rice not only brightens up the dish but also makes it more appetising. It’s easy to put them together. And best of all, you can swap with different ingredients as long as you get the base right. That base in question includes cooked rice (overnight would be perfect!), ketchup, tomato paste, chopped onions, soy sauce, salt and black/white pepper. Combine everything together and cook them in high heat. Remember not to overcook them to prevent the rice from burning on the bottom of the wok/pan. Given the versatility of this tomato fried rice dish, you can toss in some meats (e.g. chopped/sliced ham, luncheon meat or sausage) and/or vegetables (e.g. diced carrots) for added bites and textures.
2) Tomato Udon Soup
Got some canned tomatoes sitting somewhere in the kitchen cabinet? Why not make noodle soup out of it? Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable in the pan over medium-high heat. Stir in some spring onions before adding two cans of chopped tomatoes. Keep stirring them until they become a paste for around 5 minutes tops. Once done, shift the tomato paste to a pot and add the stock of your choice (chicken or beef would do just fine). Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat before lowering down to a simmer. Next, cook 1 or 2 packets of dried udon noodles (depending on your appetite, that is!) and follow the package instructions. Drain the udon and transfer them into a large bowl. Back to the tomato broth, you can crack an egg into it, and add vegetables and/or add sliced beef/pork/chicken regardless of leftover of freshly-cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Carefully pour the hot tomato broth into the bowl of udon or use a ladle. Serve immediately.
3) Tomato Soup
Need something slurpy that is both comforting and nourishing? A bowl of warm tomato soup would be just nice. Sure, you can always whip this up real quick by heating a canned tomato soup. But canned tomato soups typically contain loads of sodium. You can still go for the canned variety except the difference is, you use canned diced tomatoes.
Here’s how: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Then, add in minced garlic and diced onion. Saute them until they become soft and fragrant. Next, add 2 tablespoons of flour in the pot to thicken the base (you can leave this out if you want to) and keep stirring until everything is well-coated. Add tomato paste (around 2 tablespoons will do) and stir them all together. Cook for 2-3 minutes before adding 2 cans of diced tomatoes. Sprinkle some dried thyme and pour 2-3 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the lid, bring to a simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes. This allows the flavours to fuse together.
Then comes the blending part. Use an immersion blender or the plain old blender to puree the soup. Ladle the tomato soup into a bowl and enjoy! You can pair your tomato soup with croutons or dip with a slice of toast.
4) Meatballs In Tomato Sauce
Meatballs and tomato — the ultimate combination that truly defines the meaning of comfort food. Making your own meatballs are easy. In a large bowl, unwrap a packet of minced beef before adding in other ingredients. This includes 1 beaten egg, a clove of crushed garlic, some finely chopped onions, dried herbs of your choice (e.g. rosemary, oregano or thyme) and breadcrumbs. Mix them all together with your clean, bare hands and form the mixture into meatballs. Set this aside on a tray or plate.
For the tomato sauce, heat the pan with some oil over medium-high heat. Cook the sliced onions and crushed garlic until soft and fragrant. Then, pour two cans of tomatoes (all diced and sliced) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and remember to season your tomato sauce with salt and pepper. Finally, transfer the meatballs into the sauce. Allow them to cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat. Use tongs to turn the meatballs every now and then to make sure they are cooked through. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning if you have to. You can serve the meatballs in tomato sauce on its own or pair with your favourite pasta or bread.
5) Tomato Salsa Dip
Nachos, tortilla chips — these crispy snacks certainly go well with a dipping sauce. And among them happens to be the classic tomato salsa dip. While you can simply buy a bottled version, why not try making them your own? Just pour a can of whole peeled or diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Then, add 1/2 chopped red onion, 1 or 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1/2 cup of fresh coriander, 1-2 chopped jalapenos and 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lime juice. Season with salt and pepper before blending the mixture together. Depending on your preference, you can make your salsa either chunky or smooth. Give it a little taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. And that’s it! It’s time to dip those chips into your homemade tomato salsa.
If the name of the dish sounds very familiar, that’s because it was first popularised by the 2007 Pixar animated film of the same name. The good news is, you don’t have to become a qualified chef to make this classic French stew. First, you need to dice some fresh produce such as eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers. Then, heat the pot with some oil and cook the chopped onions and garlic until soft and fragrant. Add in the diced fresh produces, stir them for a few minutes before combining a can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add some dried herbs (eg. thymes) before seasoning the mixture with salt and pepper. Give them a gentle stir and cover the lid. Allow it to simmer for 25-30 minutes or at least until the sauce becomes slightly thickened.
7) Chicken Tikka Masala
This flavourful Indian dish can be done at the comfort of your own kitchen. To begin the recipe, simply marinate the chicken (get the boneless and skinless breasts or thighs) in plain yoghurt and spices. The spices will include garam masala, cayenne pepper and paprika. Marinate everything for around 30 minutes, allowing the flavour to absorb into the chicken. If you can wait, let the chicken marinate overnight in a bowl covered with plastic wrap in the fridge. Otherwise, you can start cooking the chicken in a pot over high heat. Brown them and set the chicken aside.
Using the same pot, melt some butter and cook the chopped onion. Add 1-2 cans of diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir them all together. Then, stir in freshly-grated ginger, minced garlic, garam masala, paprika and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and bring everything to a boil. Lower the heat and let the tikka masala sauce simmer, stir every now and then until slightly thickened. Transfer the cooked chicken back to the pot and cook for around 3-5 minutes. To add richness to your chicken tikka masala, you can pour 1/3 cup of heavy cream into it. Best served with white rice or a tortilla wrap.
8) Pasta e Fagioli
This is basically pasta and beans mixed all together. And it’s not difficult to make it too. Cook dry pasta (macaroni, penne or fusilli would be great) in a pot of boiling salted water and follow the package instructions. While you are waiting for the pasta to cook, heat the pan with some oil over medium-high heat. Cook chopped onions, carrots and celery until tender before adding in some crushed garlic. Stir in 1-2 cans of diced tomatoes, vegetable stock/broth and a few cups of water. The latter helps to add some volume. Season the mixture with spices (oregano, bay leaves and red pepper flakes) and cook for 10 minutes to meld the flavour. Finally, add in a can of cannellini beans and transfer the cooked pasta to the pot. Stir them gently and adjust the seasonings if needed. You can top your pasta e fagioli with some shredded parmesan cheese too.