Having just moved down south, far from family and friends, I was faced with a real decision to make. My choice would change my life forever. Clearly, the selection of the proper tomato product to purchase at the grocery store would make or break my dinner. But being a naive and uninformed shopper, I assumed that Tomato Paste was basically unflavored Tomato Sauce. Boy was I wrong.
No matter how much I simmered, seasoned, or diluted, the “sauce” that I made had an incredibly strong, sickeningly sweet and acidic taste. What I was really looking for in the store was Tomato Purée. Unfortunately, my pasta was not great that night, but I learned quite a few Tomato Terms™ (which I will share below):
- Canned Tomatoes – Raw, can be whole-peeled or diced. Great if you have plenty of time to make sauce from scratch! My favorite recipe (that I have yet to try but looks amazing) is of course from Chef John.
- Tomato Purée – cooked, strained, and unseasoned. Great as a base for a sauce if you don’t want to spend extra time cooking canned tomatoes.
- Tomato Paste – cooked, super concentrated, and unseasoned. This is an ingredient in most Tomato Sauce recipes, but usually only a very small amount because of its potency. I will admit that it does have a desirable “meaty” quality, but as I suggested above, you don’t want to make a dish with lots of this.
- Tomato Sauce – cooked, thin, and seasoned. This is the jar of Bar
illa that you get at the grocery when you are too lazy to make your own (which is most of the time for me). Usually good but not amazing because it isn’t super fresh.