Stewed tomatoes can be used to make various sauces for pizza, pasta, salsa, soup, added to gravy dishes, stews, and even used as a base for many other foods. Tomatoes are highly nutritious, tasty, low in calories, and full of antioxidants that have many health benefits. They can also be had raw or cooked, lending their tang or sweetness to many foods and enhancing their taste. So a substitute for stewed tomatoes may be just what you want when you have run out of this versatile food item.
Best Substitutes for Stewed Tomatoes
You can get tomato puree in different package options. It is much thinner than other forms of tomato, including tomato ketchup. It is usually made of plain tomatoes, and has a smooth consistency. Tomato puree is not seasoned and you will need to adjust the seasoning of the dish, according to what you are cooking.
You will have to use more tomato puree than you use stewed tomatoes. And if the dish you are making requires chunky tomatoes, this may not be the best option for you. It will probably not work in a salsa, for instance. However, it does well in many sauces and wet dishes, adding bulk, taste, and texture. Use appropriate herbs, spices, and other vegetables to get the equivalent of stewed tomatoes.
2. Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes generally comprise peeled tomatoes that are whole. You may also get chunky tomatoes that are canned and these may be seasoned as well. Being canned, they are already processed. You simply open the can and chop, crush, or otherwise cut the tomato pieces to get the desired size chunks or pieces.
They can be used in soups, gravies, pasta and pizza sauces and more. Do adjust the seasonings since the whole canned tomatoes are not seasoned. You can even use the juice of the canned tomatoes. If the result is too thin, simply cook a bit more.
3. Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes are the easiest to use, though they do require some preparation. You need to peel them and this is easy to do by putting them in boiling water and blanching them, or scoring them by running them in the microwave for a minute or two (depending on the amount of tomatoes). When they are cool enough to handle, the peel will slide off easily. Then halve or chop and use them as required. For a smoky flavor, you can prick the tomatoes and roast them in the oven for around 30 minutes. The peel will be easy to remove.
When you are using fresh tomatoes instead of stewed tomatoes, you will need to change your cooking method as these are basically raw tomatoes. So add them in the beginning of the cooking process as they require cooking and perhaps thickening as well. Adjust the seasonings accordingly as well. Fresh tomatoes also add a flavor bang to salsas.
4. Tomato Paste
This is a thick version of tomato puree, so you need to use less of it since a little goes a long way. It not only adds flavor and tang to your food, but also adds more color. If your recipe calls for stewed tomatoes, and you only have tomato paste, you need to add only one-third the quantity.
Tomato paste is great to use in pasta and pizza sauces. It also helps to make a quick tomato soup, when you add other ingredients to it and thin it down. In fact, tomato paste usually needs to be diluted, unless you are adding it to a dish that already has a liquid base.
5. Crushed Tomatoes
Do you have a can of crushed tomatoes handy? You can use these instead of stewed tomatoes. Different brands have them either as chunks or with a smoother texture – check labels. If somewhat chunky, they also may have some juice and you can use this as well.
Crushed tomatoes can be used in pizza, pasta, stew, sauces, and soups, also in dishes that are in a gravy or in a casserole as a stewed tomato substitute.
6. Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is a thickened version of tomato puree. It is usually unflavored, but you do get varieties that have some seasonings or other foods added and these are used for specific dishes. It is not the same as tomato ketchup, which is quite sweet and somewhat tangy. Depending on what it contains, it may be smooth or have a texture.
This version is ideal for use in pasta and pizza sauce and in stews. You can also make soup out of it, adding some other ingredients for a better flavor and taste.
Make Your Own Stewed Tomatoes
You can make your own stewed tomatoes in a short time. When you do so, you can control the amount of seasonings you use and are also assured of fresh tomatoes. If you are not interested in canning them, you can store them in the freezer for future use if you make more than you need.
8 large tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
1 celery stalk
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bell pepper (use red for additional color or use yellow or green or even a combination)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon sugar
- Peel tomatoes using any of the methods described earlier. Cut them into small or large chunks.
- Chop celery stalk, onion, garlic, and pepper.
- Place all the vegetables in a heavy pan and cook, first over high heat and then on low heat till vegetables are softened. This will take around 15 minutes.
- Depending on the kind of tomatoes used and the liquid they give out, you may need to cook till you get the desired texture.
- Season with salt, sugar and pepper. You can reduce or increase the sugar used, depending on the variety of tomatoes used as some are sweet and some are sour.
- You can also add herbs such as oregano, basil, lovage, or others, depending on your taste and choice.
- Use your fresh home-made stewed tomatoes in any recipe calling for the canned variety.
What is in canned stewed tomatoes?
Brands may vary in taste, but generally canned stewed tomatoes contain tomatoes cooked with celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, along with some salt, pepper, and sugar.
What are the best tomatoes to use if you want to make your own stewed tomatoes?
While you can use mostly any kind of tomatoes to make your own canned stewed tomatoes, the best ones are beefsteak, roma, or plum tomatoes. And you can always mix different tomatoes.
Are diced tomatoes cooked?
Foods that are canned are cooked. If the cooking is not done separately, they undergo cooking during the sterilization process while canning.
You use tomatoes in a wide variety of dishes and it is a kitchen staple. You can get canned tomatoes whole, pureed, chunky, or diced and these are suitable for many kinds of foods. Often you can use them interchangeably.
When you need a substitute for stewed tomatoes , you can use most types of tomatoes, but you may need to adjust the cooking times and seasonings and also the time when you add them to the dish. Raw and more liquid canned tomatoes may require higher cooking times so that the dish gets the density you want.