Have you looked at a recipe that called for both tomato sauce and tomato paste, and wondered why it needed both? Tomato paste is a concentrated form of tomato, and is very thick, so it will add a deep tomato taste to your dishes. It gives a special flavor to pasta sauce, pizza sauce, stews and soups. If you make something that is more watery than you want it to be, adding a little tomato paste will thicken it and make it more appetizing.

In very small amounts it can add just a hint of tomato without overpowering other ingredients. Try adding a dab to cream sauce or salad dressing to make them look more appealing and add just a hint of flavor. When you have to use tomatoes that are not completely ripe, tomato paste prevents the dish from tasting bland.

You might like to saute tomato paste before adding it to other foods. Just push aside whatever you have browned in the pan and cook the paste in the oil or butter you are using until it becomes slightly brown. Then mix it into the other ingredients.

Tomato paste is sold two different ways - canned and in a tube. A tube is handy because it can be kept in the refrigerator and you can use the tiniest bit at a time. It will keep in the fridge almost forever, or until the paste gets too hard to squeeze out of the tube. But it's much more expensive. A five ounce tube sells for around $4.95, and a six ounce can for around 89 cents (depending on where you live, sales, etc.). You might like to use a tube for smaller amounts, and a can when you need more.

When you buy a can and only need a part of it, what can you do with the rest? The best thing to do is freeze it for later use. The whole thing can be emptied into a zip-lock bag, pressed flat with the palm of your hand, and frozen. Then it's easy to break off pieces the size you want to use. Another way is to drop it by tablespoonsful onto wax paper and then freeze it. Once they're frozen, store these dabs in a ziplock bag and take out just what you need. They thaw very quickly, or will thaw during cooking.

Whether you use tomato paste out of a can or from a tube, you will discover that it adds a lot of flavor appeal.

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