Why to Keep a Can of Tomatoes in Your Pantry at All Times


Why to Keep a Can of Tomatoes in Your Pantry at All Times

May 25, 2016

While we patiently await a summer of fresh tomatoes, we've partnered with Muir Glen Organic to share springy recipes that use one of our favorite weeknight mainstays: canned tomatoes.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, and I'll say it again after that: I keep a good roster of versatile pantry staples, and I reach for none so often as canned tomatoes. When I truly have nothing in the house, I still have a can of tomatoes. And from there I can make soup, or sauce, or any number of things—dinner for one, brunch for four, or snacks galore suddenly seem not only accessible, but colorful and inspiring.

How much time do you have? What do you want to make? We're here to help! Photo by Bobbi Lin; design by Tim McSweeney

Whether you have 5 minutes, 40 minutes, or somewhere in between, you can make something you truly are excited to eat—a veritable trough of salsa as peppery or soupy or thick as you like it (just add chips), a brunch-worthy shakshuka, or a bowl of smoky clams to linger over. Or a million other things, all adaptable to whatever's already in the fridge or at the market. These are just a few favorites:

You have a can of tomatoes and 30 minutes and you're hungry. What do you make? Tell us in the comments below.

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Muir Glen Organic's got variety going for it: Their flavorful, organic canned tomatoes come in almost any form you'd need, from crushed or diced to fire-roasted and dotted with basil. See all their products here.

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Frazier Mark
    Frazier Mark
  • Azoay Boni
    Azoay Boni
  • sydney
  • Amanda
  • Smaug
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


Frazier M. December 11, 2017
If your cutting board smells after you chop onions, crush garlic, cut raw and cooked meat and chicken, or prepare fish, get rid of the odor and help sanitize the cutting
board by rubbing it all over with the cut side of half a lemon.

Source: http://lifeogy.com
Azoay B. November 14, 2017
Caulk refers to the silicon cream or tape that is used to seal surfaces. Over time, it’s prone to water damage, degradation, or discolouration. If you notice cracks in your caulking it’s time to replace it. This doesn’t cost very much money and is an easy way to repair any leaks or drip issues you have in bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms. It’s important to choose the right colour and grade of caulk to match the rest of your home.

sydney May 27, 2016
Glass is healthier than metal, especially for acidic foods such as tomatoes. Check this out if you're concerned about health issues now or in the future: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/10/9-unhealthy-foods.aspx
Amanda May 25, 2016
Canned tomatoes are the best! I always have some sort of pasta in the pantry, so I make a quick sauce out of the tomatoes, add in whatever veggies I have in the fridge, and toss with the pasta.
Smaug May 25, 2016
My shrimp creole recipe somehow evolved over time into shrimp in a tomato sauce (I'm really not very fond of roux) which comes together very quickly. I usually keep an open can (in a jar) of diced tomatoes in the refrigerator; they're useful in all sorts of dishes, from vegetable combos to stews to taco fillings. Can't say I'm all that sold on Muir Glen- are you guys doing paid product placements now?
Samantha W. May 25, 2016
Hi Smaug, the work we produce with our partners allows us to bring you content for free! From beautiful sponsored content to videos to events, it is a large, important facet of what we do that supports our entire brand. And our hope for it is to be inventive, helpful, and interesting for our readers!
Smaug May 25, 2016
I suppose so. This strikes me as having crossed a line but then I'm pretty old: maybe there are no lines left where advertising is concerned.
pat May 26, 2016
Don't follow if you're that concerned or just pick and choose what applies and ignore what doesn't. Man, some people just can't resist stirring the pot!
Smaug May 27, 2016
Absolutely, far better not to think about what freedoms and decencies you're giving up in favor of rank consumerism.
ramtoo May 28, 2016
Unless you want to pay for a subscription to this, you really should stop complaining about ads. You would have a right to complain about them if you were paying for this. Not to be tacky, but you seem to think that somehow someone else will provide things for "free".
Smaug October 8, 2017
My mistake, I was under the impression that these articles were intended as a sort of journalism, which has historically involved a clear distinction between factual content and advertising. In a case like this, if you can't tell if it's an actual recipe recommendation or merely a paid plug the recipe loses all credibility.
ncindc May 25, 2016
Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce with butter and onions. I could eat it every day, forever.
Samantha W. May 25, 2016
ME TOO -- hot or cold, honestly. It is the best.
laurenlocally May 25, 2016
I puree the onion in, sacrilege I know.
Author Comment
Caroline L. May 25, 2016
i always eat the onion, too, lauren!
AntoniaJames May 25, 2016
I make double batches of that, freezing in smaller portions for future use. I do the same for the Genius Ina Garten roasted tomato vodka sauce, in which I always use canned tomatoes. And also the Mallika Basu's tomato curry sauce, which you'll see regularly in my (Not)Recipes. I used canned tomatoes exclusively -- so much easier, and so much better tasting than any fresh tomato I can get here, any time of year -- but of course, my freezer is my "pantry" equivalent for these, the real workhorses in my cheat code repertoire. (I use San Marzano - Cento whole -- almost exclusively.) With these 3 sauces on hand, an excellent meal is only an idea and 30 minutes (or less) away. ;o)