Tomato purée (or tomato paste in the U.S.) is made by cooking fresh tomatoes for several hours to reduce the water content. The seeds and skins are strained out, leaving a thick, rich concentrate. It is sold in tubes or jars and you will find it in most supermarkets.
Tomato purée originated in Sicily. It was made by in the summer by spreading tomato sauce onto wooden boards and leaving them in the hot Italian sun to dry into a thick paste. When it was thick enough, it was scraped from the boards and used in cooking.
Tomato puree has a thick consistency and a deep tomatoey flavour. It is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cooking like pizza sauce, pasta sauce, ragu, soups and stews. It is added to recipes to give them colour and flavour.
If you can’t find tomato purée you can make a quick and easy substitute at home! You can make it with fresh tomatoes but if you have passata it’s even easier!
- Add tomatoes or passata to a large pan and reduce over a medium heat.
- Stir every so often, and be careful not to burn the bottom
- Reduce until they are a thick paste and have darkened in colour slightly.
- If you used fresh tomatoes you will need to blend the tomatoes to make it into a sauce.
Tomato puree nutrition
Tomato purée is high in carbohydrates, protein, fibre and it contains about 38 calories per 100 grams. In terms of vitamins and minerals, tomato purée contains good levels of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron and magnesium. It also contains some levels of Vitamin A, Calcium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper and Vitamin K.
Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene. Studies have shown that high levels of lycopene in the body can reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Lycopene has also been shown to improve your vision.