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Dublin: 15°C Saturday 12 June 2021

What to do with... those tinned tomatoes hanging around in the cupboard

Yes, a tin of tomatoes makes for a great bolognese sauce, but that’s not all it’s good for.

Veggie curry, perfect for empty fridge days.
Veggie curry, perfect for empty fridge days.
Image: Shutterstock/JoannaTkaczuk

I DON’T THINK there is a household in Ireland that doesn’t have at least one tin of tomatoes in the press.

They’re unbelievably versatile, taste great, and quite easy on the pocket too. Tinned tomatoes often get sidelined in favour of other more exciting ingredients, but they definitely deserve a little more attention. 

Interestingly, while a lot of research points out that cooking vegetables decreases their nutritional profile, the opposite is true for tomatoes; cooking tomatoes actually enhances their nutritional value.

But enough of the nerdy talk, let’s get down to the important stuff: how to make the most of those few tins of tomatoes at the back of the cupboard. Read on for some creative recipes to try out…

1. Empty-fridge veggie curry

This hearty and fragrant curry is incredibly versatile and can be made with whatever veggies you have to hand, be it broccoli, aubergine, peppers or the whole lot. Heat some oil in a pan and fry up some green chilli, garlic, onions, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and turmeric. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft, and add in your veggies of choice, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a cup of coconut milk. Simmer for about 10 minutes until your veggies are soft, and serve with basmati rice and naan bread. This freezes really well, so it’s a good one to make in batches and use when you need it.

2. Tomato and roasted pepper soup

A classic flavour combination, and oh so simple to put together. Heat some oil in a saucepan and sauté some crushed garlic, chopped celery and roughly sliced onions until soft. Add in your tin of tomatoes, a half jar of roasted red peppers (or roast your own) and 500ml of vegetable stock. Simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes, and blend with a hand blender until smooth. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and warm bread.

shutterstock_302985500 Tomato and red pepper soup with homemade croutons. Source: Shutterstock/Jane Rix

3. Sweet potato, chorizo and chickpea casserole

Another great make ahead dinner, as it tastes even better the next day. To start off, bake cubed sweet potato in the oven for 30 minutes or so. Meanwhile, fry some garlic, onion and sliced chorizo in a casserole dish until the chorizo begins to brown. Drain any excess oil, then stir in some smoked paprika, followed by a tin of chickpeas, your tin of tomatoes, a cup of hot water and the cooked sweet potato. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes and serve with baby potatoes. The perfect supper for cooler evenings.

4. Pasta puttanesca

This is a vibrant sauce that can be made in under 20 minutes, and is a great alternative to cream-based options. Fry up two cloves of sliced garlic in a large pan, followed by some chopped black olives, capers and sliced chilli. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan along with 3 tinned anchovy fillets, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Serve with your choice of pasta and a handful of fresh basil.

5. Homemade beans on toast

Homemade beans are super simple to make and contain much less salt and sugar than standard tinned options. Heat a little oil in a pan and brown some onions and garlic followed by your tinned tomatoes tomatoes and a teaspoon of sugar. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced, then add in a tin of butter beans (although pretty much any variety of tinned beans will work). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes and the beans are ready to serve! Delicious served with toasted sourdough and some grated cheese for a slightly fancier version of the usual beans on toast.

More: What to do with… those leftover apples sitting in the fruit bowl>

More: What to do with… bread that’s about to go stale>

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