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Making the Best of Canned Tomatoes

At Cook for Your Life we’re all about stocking up on pantry basics to make cooking easy no matter what you’re going through, whether cancer treatment has left you wiped out, or you simply don’t feel like going out to the store. One of my favorite basics to keep on hand are plain, diced or whole, unseasoned canned tomatoes. In the winter months they are so much more flavorful to cook with than hothouse tomatoes, not to mention cheaper, plus they give our bodies better access to tomato’s cancer fighting  antioxidant lycopene. On the practical cooking side, they can be used to make dozens of different recipes from soups, to pastas, to chilis and beyond. All are easy.  The 4 videos we’ve chosen for this lesson will show you how to make the best use of this fabulously useful kitchen staple.

Black Bean Chilli

In this video you’ll use diced tomatoes to make an easy, totally yummy, black bean chili. I love this dish because it’s not only a delicious meal that you can get on the table in about 40 minutes, but its main ingredients are all basic pantry items – canned diced tomatoes, black beans, bayleaf, cumin seed, garlic and onion. The extras you’ll need are few: a poblano pepper, a can of chipotle in adobo, which will keep in the fridge once opened, a lime and some cilantro.  As we cook together, you’ll see just how quick and easy this great recipe is.

Tomato & Sweet Potato Soup

This deliciously simple, gorgeously orange soup is literally just canned tomatoes and sweet potato, enhanced with pantry basics like garlic, onion and bay leaf. It takes about an hour start to finish, with minimal prep on the cutting board. The key is slow cooking the onion and sweet potatoes at the beginning. Let’s cook up a batch together so you can see not just how to do that, but how little it takes to get a really good soup on the table.

Spiced Beet & Tomato Soup

Tomatoes and beets are a marriage made in heaven. I came to love beets late in life. As a child I’d hated them. Then a vegetarian friend of mine served me some roasted. It was love, and I started to cook with raw beets myself. This easy soup started out as a curry. It’s very simple and uses canned tomatoes, onions and of course beets. The color is absolutely unbelievable as is the flavor. Try it with a swirl of Greek yoghurt and a pinch of chopped cilantro.

Quick and Easy Tuna Pasta

When tomatoes are out of season, canned are often a better buy than fresh for cooking. This recipe is a case in point. Some Italian friends I stayed with in the Marche one summer taught me this quick and tasty pasta dish made with canned tuna. It’s delicious. The tomatoes need to be really ripe to make it, so in winter when truly vine ripened tomatoes aren’t available, you can chop up little grape tomatoes, but for a real taste of summer from the pantry, I find canned diced tomatoes make the best substitute.

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