Open any one of our pantries and you’re likely to find at least a can or two of tomatoes in there. This is especially true during winter, when the sweet, fresh-from-the-vine varieties aren’t available. Whether crushed, whole and peeled, fire roasted, mixed with seasonings or any number of other varieties, each type has a place in making our lives easier (and a whole lot more delicious) for just a buck or two.
Packed at their peak, canned tomatoes deliver summer-ripened flavor no matter when you crack ’em open. They’re a smart choice for cooking anything tomato-based when fresh tomatoes are out of season, whether it’s sauces or salsas. “Fresh” winter tomatoes tend to be almost tasteless, as well as mealy and far more expensive per pound than their canned counterparts.
Nutritionally, tomatoes of any kind are a healthy choice. Each serving is high in water, low in calories and delivers a nice amount of vitamins A, C and K. Studies have also suggested that cooked tomatoes allow the body to more readily absorb lycopene, a naturally occurring antioxidant in the fruit. To boost the absorption further, combining the ‘maters with a judicious amount of oil or fat has been shown to be effective.
Be sure you follow the recipes carefully for the type of canned tomato called for. There’s a huge variation in seasonings used (salt, herbs, peppers) and tomato cuts (whole, crushed, diced) that can have an impact on the final dish in terms of flavor and texture. Additionally, some dishes may have you drain off the tomato juice — it’ll either be reserved for a later point in the recipe or discarded (though, you probably could upcycle it into a tasty Bloody Mary). So, as with any recipe, it’s important to read the directions all the way through before you even pick up the can opener. Check out our top eight canned tomato recipes to cook all year round.
1. Baked Turkey Parmesan Meatballs (Dairy-Free): A trifecta of canned tomato products — fire roasted, sauce and paste — make for an especially rich blend to accompany this batch of homemade meatballs. And for vegetarians, check out these tasty-sounding quinoa-chickpea meat-free balls. (via Ambitious Kitchen)
2. Five-Minute Restaurant-Style Blender Salsa: Made primarily with pantry staples, this is a great recipe to have on hand for impromptu entertaining or scrumptious snacking in just minutes. (via Little Spice Jar)
3. Chipotle and Black Bean Chilaquiles With Grilled Pineapple: Light enough that you’ll feel almost virtuous digging in, these spicy, smokey, tomato-sauce-tossed chips are also an excellent hangover cure. Top off every serving with a runny-yolk egg to add a touch of extra substance. (via Katie at the Kitchen Door)
6. Tomato and Stracciatella Pizzas: The sauce for this delicious thin-crust pizza couldn’t be more simple: It’s made with just hand-crushed canned tomatoes. When combined with stretchy stracciatella, fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of crushed pepper flakes and oregano, you’ll practically be transported to Naples with every bite. (via Bon Appétit)
8. Beer and Brat Queso: We can’t forget about one of our fave canned tomato brands, RO*TEL! The spicy tomato-pepper blend is indispensable for whipping up the easiest bowlful of queso ever, including this irresistible beer- and brat-boosted version. (via Brit + Co)
(Image via My Food Storage Cookbook)
What are some of your favorite recipes that use canned tomatoes? Share yours with us in the comments!