Being one of the most versatile ingredients, tomatoes are star-ingredient in many recipes from various cuisines. But what if you run short of tomatoes while making your favorite dish? So, in today’s article, I will tell you all about the best tomato substitutes that you can try.
Though tomatoes are extremely versatile and used everywhere, there can be certain situations where you do need a substitute for the same. This article has all the best substitutes you can use in place of tomatoes that will give the same flavor.
So, the real question here is, what can you use in place of tomatoes in different recipes? The best tomato substitutes are processed tomatoes, tamarind paste, mango, red peppers, pumpkin, and yogurt.
But, before I start discussing the best substitutes for tomatoes with you, I think I should give you a general idea about tomatoes first. Once you know what exactly tomatoes are used for in different recipes, you will get a better understanding of which substitute would fit best.
Quick Peek: Tomatoes
In this section, you will find all the relevant information on tomatoes. You will get to understand the basic ingredient, along with its flavor and texture profile. You will also get to understand what they are used for and their nutritional values.
What Is A Tomato?
Tomato is the edible berry of a tomato plant, also known by the name Solanum Lycopersicum. The species of tomato originated in western South America, Mexico, and Central America.
It is believed that the domestication and culinary use of tomatoes may have originated with the natives of Mexico. The Spanish were the ones that got tomatoes to Europe after getting to know about them from the Aztecs.
From there, tomatoes were introduced to other parts of the European colonized world in the 16th century, and the rest is history! Now, tomatoes are one of the most widely used fruits in the world, with a lot of varieties grown worldwide.
Describing Tomatoes: Flavor And Texture
Generally, the best way to describe a tomato’s texture is that it is firm yet soft. Unripe tomatoes are green in color and harder. Ripe tomatoes, however, are firm and soft at the same time. If you press your thumb against a ripe tomato, you should be able to see the print.
That can be defined as the perfect texture of a tomato. When we talk about the flavor of tomatoes, they have an overall sweet and sour taste. Unripe tomatoes are generally sourer as compared to ripe tomatoes.
Facts About Tomatoes
Since most people know all about tomatoes, they may find this section of the article a little boring. But, let me tell you some fun facts about tomatoes to make this a little more interesting for everyone!
- There are around 10,000 varieties of tomatoes found all over the world.
- Tomatoes are not always red. They come in various colors like yellow, pink, purple, black, and white.
- It is thought that tomatoes originally came from Peru.
- Tomatoes are technically a fruit, not a vegetable.
- China is now the largest producer of tomatoes.
Uses Of Tomatoes
Being an extremely versatile fruit, tomatoes have a variety of uses. The main three uses of tomatoes, however, are that they are used raw to add to various recipes for crunch and flavor. They make the base for various sauces.
They are added in different recipes to bring a sour flavor. Other than this, tomatoes are also used to make tomato juice, which is used to make cocktails like Bloody Mary. Other varieties of tomatoes like sundried tomatoes are used for adding texture to different recipes.
Tomatoes On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Tomatoes are very healthy fruits with a lot of health benefits. They are a great source of the antioxidant Lycopene, which has been linked to various health benefits. Tomatoes are generally 95% filled with water.
The other 5% of the tomato generally contains carbohydrates and fibers. Tomatoes also contain minute amounts of proteins and fats. They are also a great source of vitamins C, K1, and B9, along with potassium as one of the main minerals.
Tomatoes have been linked to numerous health benefits. They are said to help with improving heart health and cancer prevention. They protect our cells from damage. They are also great for the skin.
Why Use A Substitute For Tomatoes?
Considering how versatile tomatoes are, you may have wondered what the point of this article is. Why would anyone want to use a substitute for an ingredient that has so many uses. Tomatoes do have a lot of uses, for sure.
But, there still are some reasons why you can consider using a substitute for tomatoes. Firstly, there are many people that are allergic to tomatoes. So, if you need something that gives the same sour flavor as tomatoes, a substitute will come in handy.
Moreover, many people are not fond of the watery texture of tomatoes. So, if you need something that tastes similar to tomatoes but has a different texture, you can use a substitute that can work in place of tomatoes.
Lastly, if you are just out of tomatoes, you don’t need to run to the store at the last minute. Many of the substitute options are very easily available. There is also a high possibility that they might already be present in your pantry!
7 Best Tomato Substitutes
In this section, you will find all the best substitutes you can use in place of tomatoes. You will moreover get to know what recipe these substitutes will work best in. You will also get to understand the purpose of each substitute and their ratios of substitution.
1. Processed Tomatoes
Processed tomatoes are basically tomatoes that come in different forms. These include tomato puree, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and tomato powder. They all will work well as substitutes for raw tomatoes.
Different types of processed tomatoes can be used in various recipes to get the exact same flavor as raw tomatoes. In curries, you can use tomato puree in place of raw tomatoes. Even canned tomatoes will do the same job as tomato puree.
They can both form the base of curry and give the right amount of sour flavor to any recipe. Canned tomatoes will give you a chunky texture, whereas tomato puree will give you a smoother curry.
Tomato paste can be used in recipes which need to be thickened and only need a small quantity of tomatoes, just for the sour flavor. Same goes with tomato powder. These substitutes, however, will not work in recipes where you need raw tomatoes.
2. Tamarind Paste
Tamarind paste is made from the pulp of the fruits of tamarind trees. Tamarind paste has a sour taste similar to that of tomatoes and can solve the purpose of adding a sour agent in your recipe while using them as a tomato substitute.
Tamarind paste is generally paired with a sweet-tasting ingredient as it is really sour as it is. So, you cannot really make an entire sauce or curry with tamarind paste. But, for recipes where tomato is just added for the sour flavor, tamarind paste is a great fit.
Pair the tamarind paste with some brown sugar, and it will work really well in place of tomatoes. But, start by using half the quantity as compared to the number of tomatoes. Using too much tamarind paste might make your food too sour.
Yogurt is a dairy product made by the bacterial fermentation of milk. It has a naturally sour taste which it imparts to any recipe it is used in. So, yogurt can be used as a substitute for tomatoes in cooked recipes.
While using yogurt as a substitute for tomatoes in cooked recipes, try sticking to plain, unsweetened yogurt. It will give better results as compared to sweetened yogurt. Moreover, make sure you add yogurt at the end.
If yogurt is added at the same stage as tomatoes, there are very high chances of it splitting. Moreover, yogurt will not work in recipes where tomatoes are the hero of your dish. You can use yogurt as a tomato substitute in such recipes in a standard 1:1 ratio.
Pumpkins are a kind of winter squash that comes in colors varying from yellow to orange. Though they don’t have the same flavor as tomatoes do, they can work as a substitute for cooked tomatoes in various recipes.
Pumpkins are extremely healthy and a great source of vitamin A. So, from a nutritional standpoint, they do make a great substitute. But, considering how different their texture is, they won’t work in place of raw tomatoes.
Pumpkin puree can be used in gravies and sauces which need cooked tomatoes in them. They will give a similar consistency and color as tomatoes do. Moreover, the color can be corrected with the addition of paprika and the flavor with a sour element like vinegar.
Certain spices can give the same color and flavor to recipes as tomatoes do. Though spices might not work in all recipes where you need a substitute for tomatoes, they can work for certain recipes.
Spices can add a lot of flavor and color to food, depending on which one you use. For instance, if you are looking to use a substitute for tomato that will give a red color to food, you can try using paprika powder as a substitute.
Other than that, if you want a slightly sour flavor to your food that is similar to that of tomatoes, you can use a little amount of dry mango powder. It will work perfectly well in place of tomatoes, where tomatoes are not the main ingredient of a dish.
6. Red Peppers
Red bell peppers, in particular, have a very similar flavor and color to that of tomatoes. They might not be as sour as tomatoes, but they can work well as a substitute in both raw and cooked recipes.
Red bell peppers are the best bet if you are looking for a tomato substitute to use in a raw form. They will give the same color and a crunchy texture. You can also roast them and use them in different recipes for added flavor.
Other than that, if you are using them in curry or sauce recipes, you can roast the red peppers and puree them, and further use them in place of tomatoes. To achieve a more acidic flavor, you can add some lemon juice or vinegar to your curry.
Mangoes are one of the most cultivated fruits of the tropical world. They have a sour taste when raw, which sweetens as they ripe. You can use them as a substitute in place of both raw and cooked tomatoes.
Raw mangoes, as opposed to ripe mangoes, will make a much better substitute for tomatoes. Raw mangoes have a sour taste that will work extremely well in curry recipes. Moreover, raw mangoes are usually used quite a lot in various curries.
So, it definitely is an easy swap. You can also try using raw mangoes in salads and sandwiches if the sour taste of tomatoes is what you are looking for. As a substitute, raw mango works in a 1:1 ratio of substitution.
Short Recap For Best Tomato Substitutes
Not a very long list of substitutes for tomatoes, but still a decent enough list that will work in all recipes. So, I am sure you must have gone through them all by now. But, I will break it down for you to make it easier to pick your substitute.
Best Tomato Substitutes For Cooked Recipes:
- Processed Tomatoes
Best Tomato Substitutes For Uncooked Tomatoes:
- Red Peppers
Substitute Options To Consider Last:
- Tamarind Paste
How To Substitute Tomatoes
- Processed Tomatoes
- Tamarind Paste
- Red Peppers
- Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
- Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
- Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
Now that you have gone through the short recap too, for the best tomato substitutes, I am sure you must have picked your favorite substitute by now. Though tomato is a very versatile ingredient that is used worldwide, there are not too many substitutes for the same.
This is because the way tomatoes work in recipes and the flavor and texture that they add are almost irreplaceable. So, there are very few ingredients that actually work in the same way as tomatoes do in a recipe.
However, saying that, even though the list is short, all the substitute options work really well in place of tomatoes. Just use them in the particular recipes that they have been mentioned to be used in, and I guarantee that you will be very happy with your final dish!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are tomatoes good for health?
Yes, tomatoes are loaded with various nutrients that make them really good for health.
Can you eat tomatoes everyday?
Yes, tomatoes can be eaten everyday.
Who should avoid eating tomatoes?
People who are allergic to tomatoes should avoid eating tomatoes.
Should you remove the seeds of tomatoes?
Removing the seeds of tomatoes is not necessary.