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Don't let your canned tomato paste go to waste after you've used the one or two tablespoons most recipes call for. Here are a few helpful tips that show there are far more uses for tomato paste than spaghetti.

Emma Crist
January 17, 2017

Whether you're making stew, a savory sauce for braising, or a classic Italian recipe, tomato paste is a great way to add a punch of concentrated tomato flavor and rich thickening action to your cooking, but most recipes call for a mere one or two tablespoons of the stuff. Assuming you're using the standard 6-ounce can, you'll want to use up the remaining 8 or 9 tablespoons before it goes bad in a few days. Here are a few helpful suggestions for how to avoid wasting it:

1. Freeze it

Unfortunately, once a can of tomato paste is opened--it will only laste in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. However, you can easily freeze tomato paste for 2-3 months simply by spooning the paste into ice cube trays. One completely frozen, transfer the individual cubes to a heavy-duty freezer bag. To use the cubes in the future, keep in mind that the cube sizes in a standard ice cube tray are approximately 1 ounce (or about two tablespoons).

**Note: Never store a can of opened tomato paste in the refrigerator or freezer. Instead, transfer your past to a glass or plastic container that's fully sealed.

Photography: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

2. Make tomato salt

Skip paprika and elevate dishes with a dust of tomato salt. You can keep this finishing salt up to two months in a sealed container and use it to add an instant flavor boost to dry rubs, salads, and appetizers. Try sprinkling it over your roasted vegetables, deviled eggs, and fresh salads to add a new layer of flavor. Did we mention all you need is two ingredients?

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt flakes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 225°F. Spread tomato paste in a thin, even layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. Bake 25 minutes or until paste is dry, slightly pliable in center, and brittle around the edges. Cool completely on mat; break into small pieces. Process tomato pieces into a fine powder using a spice grinder. Add sea salt flakes; pulse 3 to 4 times or until salt flakes are coarsely chopped. Store in an airtight container up to 2 months.
Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

3. Make a big batch of tomato sauce

If you've got a nearly-full can of tomato paste that you need to use up quickly, try this recipe for making a pot of easy and flavorful homemade tomato sauce to use in pasta dishes, spoon over meat, dip snacks in, and more.

Ingredients

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper

Instructions

  • Stir together first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 40 minutes. Serve over pasta with Italian-style meatballs, if desired.

The tomato sauce should last about a week in the refrigerator, but it can last months in the freezer when stored in a securely plastic freezer bag. If you decide to freeze it, just be sure to allow the sauce plenty of time to defrost in the fridge before you plan to use it for your next pasta dinner.

4. Try a new recipe

The recipes below call for 3 tablespoons or more of tomato paste and are easy ways to use up your leftovers while trying out a new recipe at the same time. Who knows, they just might become a new family favorite.

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Lindsey Lower, Claire Spollen

Eggs Poached in Tomato Sauce with Garlic Cheese Toasts

This easy-to-pull-together dinner comes together in just 25 minutes and uses 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.

Classic Beef Stew

This recipe for Classic Beef Stew is cooked low and slow with a variety of spices and flavor boosters (including 6 ounces of tomato paste) to yield perfectly tender meat packed full of comforting flavor. 

Photo: Oxmoor House

Smoky Slow-Cooked Chili

This hearty slow cooker pork chili with pinto beans gets its smoky flavor from the combination of chili powder, cumin, oregano, tomatillos, and Mexican-style hot tomato sauce. Plus, it calls for 3 tablespoons of tomato paste.

Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes

Kids and adults alike love this quick, sweet-savory Sloppy Joe recipe that can be on your table in just 20 minutes. This recipe takes a 1/2 cup of tomato paste.

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