Dear Home-Ec 101,
Can I substitute tomato paste for crushed tomatoes for a pasta sauce? If I add water to it, will it taste like a pasta sauce?
Pasty in Pascagoula
I actually have gotten this question before, but something tells me it’s a little hard to find: Tomato Paste and Crushed Tomatoes.
While tomato paste is used to thicken sauces, simply thinning tomato paste with water isn’t going to give you a great pasta sauce. However, if you need to use tomato paste as a substitute for canned tomato SAUCE then use the following substitution for recipes calling for one 14.5oz can of tomato sauce.
1 can (6oz) of tomato paste, thinned with water to equal 14.5 oz (just under two liquid cups)
Thinned out tomato paste will not taste like pasta sauce any more than plain canned diced, crushed, or pureed tomatoes will taste like a pasta sauce, all of these are simply ingredients in your final dish. It’s the aromatics -vegetables like garlic and onions- cooked with herbs and spices that really give a pasta sauce character. A note to the foodies, in this instance I’m speaking generally about tomato pasta sauces, not specifically about the 5 mother sauces of French cooking. We’ll get into those another day.
To be sure your substitution will work, are you looking for simple marinara or are you thinking more of a bolognese -a meat based sauce with tomatoes? If it’s the latter, yes, you can substitute the thinned tomato paste as part of the recipe. In the former case, your results will be very underwhelming at best.
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