How to use up tomato paste?
August 26, 2021 10:13 AM   Subscribe

As usual, I had to crack open a can of tomato paste for a recipe that called for maybe half a tablespoon. What are your recipes to use up the rest of a can of tomato paste? Sandwiches, main courses, soups, beverages, breads, desserts, anything!
posted by miltthetank to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
(sorry for the lack of a real answer, but just a tip that you can usually find tubes of tomato paste at regular grocery stores these days; like this:
posted by Laura in Canada at 10:16 AM on August 26, 2021 [18 favorites]

It's not answering your question, but tomato paste freezes fine. When I've opened a can and only used a little I put teaspoonfuls in a plastic bag, spaced out to separate them, into the freezer, then pull out one spoonful at a time when needed.
posted by anadem at 10:18 AM on August 26, 2021 [45 favorites]

Yeah, if we have an open can then we freeze Tablespoon-size blobs, bundled up in plastic wrap, for future recipes.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:19 AM on August 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

I freeze tomato paste by the tablespoon! I've found like 2 recipes ever that call for more than a couple tablespoons, so when I open a new can, I plop the tablespoons on a sheet of wax paper, pop them in the freezer, and store them in a freezer ziplock once they're frozen. Next time I need it, just grab a piece and toss it right in the pot frozen.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:21 AM on August 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

All the tomato in this delicious pasta with lentils and mushrooms is from tomato paste.
posted by obfuscation at 10:21 AM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Do you have an Instantpot? I make beef stew with extra tomato paste and no red wine.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:23 AM on August 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Nth-ing the "just freeze it" advice. I would dole it out into the spaces of an ice cube tray, and then when they freeze pop them out and store them in a freezer baggie. Each "cube" is about a tablespoon.

But to give you other options - this blog post has some other suggestions, some of which I actually may adopt myself (add a blob to store-bought tomato sauce to punch it up, use it as a mix for bloody marys, add some to a vinaigrette).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on August 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This pasta recipe uses half a 6oz can and is pretty good and quick.
posted by LionIndex at 10:40 AM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Extra tomato paste? Time for spaghetti with meatballs.
Starting with plain paste means you can add whatever spices and vegetables you choose. Thin with a little water as needed, and keep simmering until the tomato sauce is delicious and the pasta is done.
I usually brown the meatballs before adding to the sauce.
Sometimes I add elbow macaroni or shell spaghetti to the thinned sauce and let it cook that way, soaking up the flavor.

Porcupine Meatballs -- mix raw ground beef and uncooked Minute Rice, drop inch-thick meatballs into simmering tomato soup or sauce, cook until meatballs are done. Break up some of the cooked meat and rice into the sauce for thickening. Serve on toasted buns.
posted by TrishaU at 10:43 AM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

Also on team Freeze-it. I freeze by putting into a zip lock bag and flattening it completely, then break off as much as I need when I need it.
posted by newpotato at 10:47 AM on August 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

I spread it on buttered bread or crackers and eat it as a snack, but I really like tomato paste. None more tomato.
posted by phunniemee at 10:56 AM on August 26, 2021 [7 favorites]

I always think I'll freeze stuff in ice cube trays, never do, or it ends up lost in a corner of the freezer. Now, as newpotato suggests, I freeze hamburger, tomato sauce or paste, etc., in ziplocks, flattened, easily labeled with sharpie. A stack of flat ingredients is easy to look through and leads to soup, pasta sauce, misc. veg on rice, etc.
posted by theora55 at 10:59 AM on August 26, 2021

I've switched to the tubes mentioned above, but a classic bolognese sauce only has a spoonful of tomato paste and I recommend trying that at least once in your life for a lasagne. I like it a lot more than the popular version with a lot of canned tomatoes.
posted by mumimor at 11:31 AM on August 26, 2021

Tomato paste on a toasted english muffin, topped with cheese and pepperoni, then under the broiler till cheese brown and melty.

But I do keep those tubes in now. Easiest.
posted by Ftsqg at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

Adding a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to the pan towards the end of sautéing onions/garlic/etc. and cooking it long enough that it darkens a bit (ex. from bright red to brick red) - maybe 3-4 minutes - adds a good bump of umami to almost any soup, stew, beans, you name it. The goal is to use enough to make a difference, but not so much that a specific tomato-y flavor comes through.

Also thirding the "double concentrated" tube tomato paste, the stuff's fantastic and way more convenient than the little cans.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:45 AM on August 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

I love this vegan peanut stew and regularly make it to use up a can of tomato paste.
posted by vanitas at 11:46 AM on August 26, 2021

Yes to freezing if you have no near-future use foreseen or more than just a few ounces to store.

It also does keep for a while (well over a week in my experience) in the fridge as long as it’s NOT in the original container. If I have about half of the small can left I wind up adding it to various soupy / stewy dishes, generally right after the onions at the beginning to caramelize it a bit. It doesn’t add a hugely tomatoey flavor but more of an umami bottom note to red beans & rice, tacos, etc.
posted by sesquipedalia at 11:55 AM on August 26, 2021

Best answer: I freeze blobs of tomato paste in 3T increments specifically for Victoria Granof's Pasta con Ceci, which is an absolutely brilliant pantry recipe. I've made it dozens and dozens of times. I made it last night, in fact.
posted by HotToddy at 12:14 PM on August 26, 2021 [2 favorites]

You want Alison Roman's caramelized shallot pasta (NYT link) which calls for a whole can of tomato paste but would work just fine with a can minus a spoonful. (Some people blame this recipe for the Great Bucatini Shortage of 2020.)

If you don't have an NYT cooking account, go here instead.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

I make seitan pepperoni with it.
posted by mezzanayne at 1:23 PM on August 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Put it in a smoothie with greens, lemon juice and some salt!
posted by waving at 3:40 PM on August 26, 2021

Tomato paste can go in just about anything, stir a spoonful into your ramen, fry some in oil before adding veggies for sauteed veggies, integrate it into hamburger meat, add to rice, it's a strong source of umami flavor and very versatile.
posted by kzin602 at 3:46 PM on August 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

I was gonna suggest that Pasta E Ceci recipe linked above, so instead I'll add sausage and peppers sandwiches!
posted by saladin at 3:51 PM on August 26, 2021

I freeze the leftover tomato paste in a 4-oz microwaveable container. When I want to use more, I microwave it until it just softens up a bit, then cut off the amount I need with a knife and put the rest back in the freezer.
posted by brianogilvie at 6:59 PM on August 26, 2021

I like a rich tomato sauce either with eggs (shakshuka) or fish baked in it. Fry the tomato paste up with some garlic in some oil, add a can of chopped tomatoes and your spices and/or herbs, yum.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:31 PM on August 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

You're looking for the recipe linked by taz in this comment. This is my favorite recipe I've gotten on MetaFilter.

Scale it up 1.5x and it will take 1/2 cup of tomato paste.

Also, simmer it about 1.5x longer than the recipe directs.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 5:53 AM on August 27, 2021

Best answer: Tomato paste eggs are habit-forming and simple. Sauté a healthy amount of tomato paste (4 Tb or so) plain until the paste changes color just as Greg_Ace describes, then add a couple eggs, scrambled with a fork. Cook, mixing as you go, until eggs are just done. The final mixture should have a fairly smooth, consistent, creamy texture and be red-orange. Scoop up with a good bread, maybe with some chopped parsley thrown on top.

I dislike eggs and this makes me love them. It also uses up plenty of tomato paste—you can use far more than the 4 Tb I suggest and still get a yummy final product. It’s a dish I learned to make in Kurdistan.
posted by a sourceless light at 7:42 AM on August 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

Add it to dime-a-dozen ramen minus the packet of seasoning but with a bit of vegetable oil and you have something that tastes pretty much identical to the Spaghetti-Os of my childhood.
posted by aniola at 10:54 PM on August 30, 2021

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