By now it’s a known fact that we at Come and Cook with Us love tomatoes. Whether in a salad, a soup or a pasta sauce, tomatoes rank high on our list! It’s their flavor, colors and nutritional value that have us coming back for more. And while it’s not always possible to have great tasting fresh tomatoes on hand, one sure way to have access to their flavor in your kitchen year-round is to stock a tube or two of sun-dried tomato paste. Its concentration adds complexity to many dishes, and if you ask my sons, they could eat it by the spoonful. Come and cook with us!
Instead of going into a detailed description of how to make sun-dried tomatoes at home – I’ve tried it, and it takes forever – I’d rather advocate that you buy a good-quality paste, ideally made from sun-dried tomatoes. When tomatoes are slowly dried in the sun – or in your oven – their natural flavor compounds become more potent and the taste is more intense and complex than regular tomato paste, which is obtained from simmering tomatoes until they are reduced. What is also good to know is that tomato paste can turn bad quickly, particularly if exposed to the air, so always choose paste sold in a tube, store it in the refrigerator and don’t keep it for too long.
Our favorite ways to use tomato paste, in addition to lending color and flavor substance to soups, stews and sauces, is to add it to roasted potatoes, to spread it on a sandwich as a condiment or to whisk it into an omelet or scramble. Another dish that takes advantage of the complexities of sun-dried tomato paste, and marries it well with lentils, is this vegetarian red lentil soup which is made with fresh ingredients and done in 30 minutes. Hope you give it a try and enjoy it as much as we did. Come and cook with us!