YOUR BEST BET: Whole and peeled
When cooking with canned tomatoes, it’s best to opt for the whole, peeled varieties. Cans with crushed, diced or pureed tomatoes tend to be made from tomatoes of lesser quality, are more processed and have a less authentic flavour.
HOW TO CHOP WHOLE CANNED TOMATOES
Avoid making a mess of chopping the slippery peeled tomatoes with a knife; use a pair of clean kitchen scissors instead. Stick them straight into the can and chop away.
HOW TO STORE
Unopened cans will remain at best quality for 18 months in the pantry. The ‘best before’ date gives you an idea of when the tomatoes will have their peak flavour but they will stay fresh about a year past that date. After opening, put any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate. Use within a week.
HOW TO COOK
Never eat canned tomatoes raw — a low and slow simmer will bring out the flavour and soften the tomatoes most effectively.
For a great one-pot pasta, in a large pot, heat oil and fry flavourings before simmering canned tomatoes. Add stock or water and stir in pasta. Cover and boil, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has thickened into a sauce. Add other ingredients such as vegies or protein at the beginning or near the end, depending on how quickly they cook.
For a simple, flavoursome tomato sauce, look no further than the recipe from the doyenne of Italian cuisine, Marcella Hazan. Pour an 800g can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes into a saucepan; add 5 tablespoons of butter, one onion peeled and cut in half, and a pinch or two of salt. Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes; stir occasionally. Discard the onion at the end of cooking.
THE GOLD STANDARD
Italian recipes often call for San Marzano tomatoes to ensure the richest flavour possible in dishes. San Marzano is a specific variety of tomato grown in Italy’s southern Campania region, and they are generally considered to be superior in flavour and texture. If you don’t mind the higher price tag and want to buy San Marzano, make sure the label says San Marzano and not, for example, ‘San Marzano-type’ or ‘San Marzano-style’. Check they are imported from Italy and make sure they have a seal with ‘D.O.P’ on the label.
AVOID HIDDEN NASTIES
If there are ingredients you’re trying to steer clear of, read the label and select a brand free from any unwanted nasties. Some cans may contain high-fructose corn syrup, sugar or preservatives other than calcium chloride and citric acid that you’ll likely wish to avoid.
A HANDY SUBSTITUTE
When tomatoes are out of season, canned tomatoes are a useful substitute. A 400g can equates to 5-6 whole tomatoes.
A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES
Travel the globe with your can of tomatoes, creating cuisine from multiple cultures. Here are just some of the dishes from different countries you can cook using canned tomatoes:
India – Rogan Josh
Italy – Pasta Puttanesca
Malaysia – Pork Rib Curry
Mexico – Huevos Rancheros
Middle East – Shakshuka
Morocco – Lamb Tagine
Spain – Paella
GREAT RECIPES USING CANNED TOMATOES ON MiNDFOOD.COM
Perfect to cook with any time of year, canned tomatoes really come into their own as the weather becomes cooler and we are search for meals that are filling and sustaining.
Spiced Meatballs with Tahini & Yoghurt Sauce
This nourishing autumn dish is packed full of delicious flavours.
Perfect for meat-free Monday, this is also one to delight any vegetarians in your household.