As a foodie, you tend to come across ingredients with what could pass as ‘doppelgangers.’ And tomato puree happens to be one of those. It’s common to come across many other components that share similarities because it’s made from one of the most versatile vegetables in culinary history.
But even an ingredient with famous ‘cousins’ like tomato puree can prove hard to substitute. You may be unsure of how to look out for consistency and thickness in its prospective alternatives. There’s also the issue of whether the substitutes may or may not contain additives, preservatives, or extra sugar, like ketchup. And there’s also the age-old debate about whether tomato puree, tomato sauce, and tomato paste are the same.
Here, you’ll discover ideal substitutes you can consider in place of tomato puree for various recipes. You’ll learn how to manipulate some of these substitutes to fit the flavor and texture profiles of tomato puree. You’ll also have a highlighted comparison between it and similar ingredients like fresh tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and passata. And you’ll also find out how to make tomato puree from tomato paste.
What is Tomato Puree?
Tomato puree is a canned tomato sauce made from cooked and strained tomatoes. Fresh Plum or Bonita tomatoes are first boiled, then peeled, and then pureed to make it. The tomatoes are also de-acidified before they’re pureed, so the flavor is further released into the puree.
Many times, tomato puree is usually confused with tomato paste and tomato sauce. Some people even believe they’re the same thing. While the similarities in physical appearance may sell this idea, the reverse is the case. Tomato puree is thinner in consistency than tomato paste, with the latter exhibiting a somewhat more solid appearance. And it’s also thicker than tomato sauce but doesn’t carry as much flavor.
Tomato paste is sweeter than tomato puree, while tomato sauce may sometimes have added seasonings and salt. Tomato puree, however, purely comprises tomatoes and nothing else.
Tomato Puree vs. Passata
You may have come across passata either at the grocery store or at that one time a recipe demanded it. And you may have concluded that it’s the same as tomato puree since some brands have ‘puree’ inscribed on the label. And though both share very similar properties, tomato puree and passata are distinctively different. Tomato puree is made by crushing cooked, strained, and de-acidified tomatoes. The process makes it thinner than passata since the latter is made from the straight pureeing of fresh tomatoes and then sieving the puree.
Tomato Puree in Recipes
Tomato puree is a fantastic base ingredient for many recipes. Its sweet flavor and thick consistency add presence and body to any dish. It works in numerous situations and can be added to any style of cooking. As a result, tomato puree can feature boiled, sautéed, steamed, marinated, grilled, and even raw recipes.
Tomato puree is also a great addition to sauces and side dishes. It works hand in hand with meats, fish, eggs, and even vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, zucchini, and cabbages. The numerous uses of tomato puree are why you’ll find it in recipes and dishes like;
- Tomat aioli
- Mackerel bake
- Chicken korma
- Pasta bake
- Savory scone
- Vegetable dishes
- Paneer Pulao
- Subs and sandwiches
Tomato Puree Substitutes
Tomato puree has such a versatile flavor; you can virtually substitute it with any other tomato-based ingredient. But note that each option may differ in specific ways from tomato puree. While some may come with additional components, others may have a varying consistency compared to the tomato puree. Knowing the difference helps in making the right switch when you need an ideal replacement.
This substitute is one of the most affordable tomato-based ingredients you can find around you, making it an excellent substitute for tomato puree. And though it’s thinner than tomato puree, this can easily be solved. Place the sauce on the stove and cook till some of its water content evaporates. This process will give you a thicker consistency similar to that of tomato puree. But you must note that some tomato sauces are pre-seasoned, so check for this before using it.
If the type of tomato sauce you have, taste it after you’ve thickened it on the stove and adjust your seasoning to compensate. Once you can maneuver around these suggestions, you can use tomato sauce as an equal substitute for tomato puree in any recipe.
Canned tomatoes are boiled tomatoes that have been packed in tomato juice. And some brands even preserve the tomatoes in puree instead. Canned tomatoes offer similarities in terms of consistency and taste once they’re pureed, making them great substitutes for tomato puree. And they’re often unseasoned and easy to find; you may already have some sitting in your kitchen cabinet.
If you wish to guarantee consistency, you could strain some of the excess juice in the can before pureeing the tomatoes. Whichever way you prefer, canned tomatoes are also another option that can be equally substituted for tomato puree in every recipe.
Another tomato puree substitute that’s easy to get in the kitchen is tomato paste. The chances of you already having a can, tube, or sachet of tomato paste in your pantry is very high, which makes it so convenient. Tomato paste allows you to attain a preferred texture as tomato puree and is also close to it in taste. But tomato paste is thicker and more concentrated in flavor, and if not correctly switched, you’ll use more than needed in your recipe.
To swap for one cup of tomato puree, combine 1/3 cup of tomato paste with 2/3 cup of water, and mix thoroughly till the consistency is even. Once the mixture is ready, you get an excellent tomato puree replacement used in sauces, stews, soups, casseroles, and many other liquid recipes.
This replacement may sound out of place because it’s primarily used as a topping for pizzas. But pizza sauce is made mainly from tomatoes. It also comes with seasonings and spices that further bolster its flavor, making it a tasty replacement for tomato puree. Pizza sauce can easily blend into simple recipes that call for tomato sauce, like burgers, burritos, and pies. Its thick consistency also works for dips, quick soups, and grilling sauces.
However, when using pizza sauce, ensure that its pre-added seasonings and spices work with your intended recipe. And if you’ve confirmed that it does, you can substitute pizza sauce for tomato puree in equal quantities.
Using fresh tomatoes to replace tomato puree may seem like a lot of work, especially if you’re in a hurry. But if you have the time, it’s a rewarding alternative. Fresh Roma tomatoes will give you the closest flavor and consistency profile to the tomato puree. And, you can make a batch and store it for later in the fridge.
To use fresh tomatoes as a substitute for tomato puree, cut the tomatoes in large chunks and bring them to boil. Once that’s done, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Place the pot down and let the cooked tomatoes cool down. Next, put them in a blender and puree till you get a smooth consistency. You can use four cups to replace one cup of tomato puree in all your recipes from the result.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can crushed tomatoes be substituted for tomato puree?
Crushed tomatoes can be substituted for fresh tomatoes, as both share a similar flavor profile. The only notable differences are the texture and consistency, as crushed tomatoes aren’t as smooth as tomato puree. But you can use it to replace tomato puree in any recipe.
Is tomato puree healthy?
Yes, it is. Tomato puree only contains tomato and rarely comes with any additives or artificial preservatives. In some canned brands, though, a bit of citric acid is added as lemon juice. And since the acid itself is a naturally occurring chemical, it doesn’t pose any health risks at all. Plus, since tomato puree is 100% tomatoes, it’s also a rich source of Lycopene
Is tomato puree keto?
Yes, they’re keto-friendly. Tomatoes contain fewer carbs than most other fruits. And since tomato puree is purely made from tomatoes, they’re suitable for keto diets.
Tomato puree is as tasty as it’s versatile, which is why we hate ever running out of it. The good news is these options will make a suitable substitute in such situations. Plus, each alternative is just as affordable as tomato puree, and they’re easy to come by. And with a little bit of adjustment in their thickness and flavor profile, you can get the same tasty and mouth-filling effect you’re looking for in tomato puree.