Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Couch Tomatoes

Aren't fresh, garden ripe tomatoes wonderful things? Too bad you can't get something that good at the grocery store. Tomatoes can be had year round at major grocery stores, but they don't often have much flavor. Canned tomatoes make a good substitute and are best canned in their own juice. Other tomato based products are sometimes called for in recipes to add richness and depth to the dish.

Tomato Sauce
There are all kinds of variations of tomato based sauces. Usually they are served as part of the dish, not as a condiment. Tomato sauces are quite common for use with meat and other vegetables, and are probably best known for pasta dishes.

Sun-dried Tomatoes
Sometimes tomatoes halves, sometimes smaller pieces, dried tomatoes are often packed in olive oil. Sometimes they are sold loose. You can easily make your own if you have a food dehydrator. It's a lot less expensive that way, as well. They're great in salads, sauces, stews and pasta dishes.

Tomato Paste/Puree
Packed with rich tomato flavor, tomato paste is often used to add flavor and color to sauces, soups and stews. Sun-dried paste is slightly sweeter and more mellow in flavor than traditional reductions.

Tomato Powder
Beyond canned pastes and sauces, tomato powder is an interesting long-term food storage option. It is normally mixed with water to dilute it to the desired thickness. It can also be added strait to soups stews in lieu of tomato paste.

Crushed Tomatoes
Whole and diced canned tomatoes are great products, but crushed tomatoes are available as well. They are particularly useful in sauces, soups, and stews, lending a smooth, thick consistency. Add a few herbs and spices, such as basil, garlic and black pepper, crushed tomatoes make a delicious and quick tomato soup.

Photo credit: Agata Urbaniak

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