Great Tomato Substitutes for Everyday Cooking

Red Bell Peppers, Your Best Friend for a Tomato Sauce Substitute
Red Bell Peppers, Your Best Friend for a Tomato Sauce Substitute | Source

Whether you have an allergy or intolerance to them or you simply don't have tomatoes on hand, here are some great substitutes for tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and more, that use can use in your everyday cooking.

From soups to sandwiches to pizzas, there is always a tomato substitute you can use. Red bell peppers, chili powder, and paprika will prove indispensable to you. There are also two pre-made sauces on the market I totally fell in love with.

Easy, Ready-Made Substitute

Substitute for Tomato Sauce in Pizza, Lasagna, Pasta Dishes, Stuffed Peppers, and Eggplant or Veal Parmesan

In my effort to both eat foods that taste tomato-like and also save my health, I accidentally found the tastiest tomato sauce substitute in a product that is pre-made, called Ajvar. It is not sold in the majority of grocery stores.

Ajvar is actually a red bell pepper and eggplant spread that has an uncanny similarity to the texture and taste of tomato sauce. The ingredients in the Marco Polo Ajvar pictured at right are: peppers, eggplant, sunflower oil, salt, sugar, distilled vinegar, and garlic.

The product is imported from Bulgaria, which is one of the reasons the ingredients are very wholesome. Foods imported from Europe tend to have less additives. artificial colors, etc.

I use this product two-fold: first, if I want pasta, I'll add a little water to the Ajvar and mix over heat. Then I just pour it over my pasta. Next, I use this product full-strength as a substitute for tomato sauce on homemade pizza.

This product is highly suited for people with allergies and intolerances to tomato. I'm a little addicted to this stuff myself.

Homemade Substitute

For Tomato Sauce in Lasagna, Pizza, Pasta, Eggplant or Veal Parmesan

  • Cut six cored and de-seeded red bell peppers into eighths (so you have chunks).

  • Place them on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for 18 to 20 minutes.

  • Many people take the black charring off of the peppers when they are done, but I leave the charring on. I like the flavor it adds.

  • Place the warm peppers into a paper bag and close the bag. Let the bag sit for about five minutes.

  • Your peppers should be moist and soft now. Place them in a blender with 1 tablespoon of canola oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 teaspoon dried basil.

    (This herb combination is to taste. You can modify it as you wish.)

  • Puree all ingredients in food processor for 20 seconds.

  • Reheat sauce when ready to serve.

Substitutes for Crushed Tomatoes in Chili:

I make chili for my husband using the following techniques and he has no idea there aren't tomatoes in it.

  • Make a base of Wyler's beef bullion powder and McCormick dark chili powder. Using beef bullion powder, mix it with 75% of the water recommended on the label.

    For example, if ten teaspoons call for ten cups of water, simply use 7 1/2 cups of water instead.

    This will help the flavor be tangier and more concentrated. Add chili powder to taste and whatever other herbs and spices you normally do.

  • Add a little white vinegar. This will give your chili that acidy taste that makes the dish so unique. You will want to also add this ingredient to taste, as people's preferences for the bite of an acid vary greatly from person-to-person.

  • Add extra ground beef. Using 80/20 ground beef instead of extra lean will help your broth be thicker and smoother like it has tomatoes. The fat will have this effect. If you want vegetarian chili without tomatoes, then use oil in place of the fat ground beef would create. If you are using ground turkey, likewise add a little oil as ground turkey is low in fat.

  • Add sliced green pepper if you wish and cook until it is soft to replicate the texture of tomatoes.

A Great Tomato Free BBQ Sauce!

Substitute for Crushed Tomatoes in Soups and Stews

If you remember how the broth tastes in alphabet soup by Campbell's, this comes close to that, especially when you have pasta or starchy vegetables cooked in the broth.

The sugars come out in the starches and sweeten the broth a little.

  • Make a base of beef bullion powder and paprika. Using beef bullion powder, mix it with 75% of the water recommended on the label.

    For example, if ten teaspoons of bullion call for ten cups of water, simply use 7 1/2 cups of water instead. Add paprika to taste (you might need a lot.)

  • Slice red bell peppers, if desired, and cook them in the broth until they are soft. The peppers replicate the taste and feel of tomatoes very closely.

Substitute for Tomatoes in Sandwiches, Pitas, and Wraps

  • Slice cucumbers and, if desired, add a dash of hot sauce to them. The cucumbers provide the texture and the hot sauce adds the tang.
  • Roast red peppers in the oven as directed above. Once they are finished steaming in the bag, add to your dish.

Getting Red Bell Peppers Cheaply:

  • Red bell peppers can be expensive, so stock up on them when they are on sale. At Kroger supermarkets in the Mid-west, red bell peppers are commonly $1.50 each. They go on sale occasionally during the summer months for two for $1.

    When that happens, buy as much as you can, process immediately, and freeze, or just stuff them in your freezer raw for later use. It won't matter that they get soft when defrosted because you will be cooking them for sauce or roasting them anyway.

  • Grow red bell peppers in your own garden. This is the most cost-effective way to get them!

I know how it feels to have allergies and intolerances to foods you love, so I understand the struggle in finding good substitutes. I hope this information helps you stay healthy in your quest to eat delicious food!

Comments 4 comments

C123 profile image

C123 3 years ago

This great to know

Stove And Home profile image

Stove And Home 3 years ago Author

Thank you, C123.

valorey profile image

valorey 3 years ago from Gulf Shores

That's pretty interesting. I am always trying to find ingredient substitutes to change things up and add hidden nutrition in my children's meals.

Stove And Home profile image

Stove And Home 3 years ago Author

Thanks Valorey. It's especially good to do even with mild food allergies.

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