Being a poor student living on the scraps of a student loan and a part time job was definitely not one of the highlights of my life. Although I wasn’t big into partying, the general consensus was that whatever money you did have went on vintage clothing and questionably cheap vodka. It was then that the leftover pennies would go to the weekly food shop and my creativity would flourish at the 101 ways to use a can of chickpeas.
There seems to be a negative outlook on canned foods in the UK. I’d love to give you a brief but accurate history on why that is, but my only guess is that after the war ended and rationing stopped, Brits didn’t want to look at a single canned good ever again. It’s a shame that they have such a bad reputation, canned vegetables are often cheaper than their fresh counterparts and are in no way less nutritionally valuable. But there is one canned good in particular that saw me through four years of university, and continues to this day to be my favourite cooking tool, canned tomatoes.
The many facets of tomatoes
By now we are all fairly aware of the fact that tomatoes are a fruit and not a vegetable, so I’m not going to bore you with the nutritional value of a tomato. Fruit and veg are good for you, and that’s all we need to say on the topic. What blows my mind is the versatility of canned tomatoes and the endless amount of dishes they can be used in. Nearly every cuisine in the world uses tomatoes as a staple part of many of their dishes, which can be easily replicated in your own kitchen, with a 33p can.
In fact, I love using them so much that every time I go to a supermarket, I pick up a can. What usually tends to happen then is I end up stockpiling canned tomatoes and look like a woman getting ready for war or possibly another lockdown (but let’s not think about that).
Add canned tomatoes to this Creamy Tomato, Lentil and Fennel soup recipe!
You’d think with all of my raving about the versatility of tinned tomatoes that I’d be letting you in on a secret exotic recipe. I hate to disappoint, but the dishes I use them in are pretty plain, Bolognese, Spanish stews and curries. The magic isn’t in the dishes themselves, but how easy canned tomatoes make it to create them. You don’t need to chop anything, get tomato juice all over the surfaces and have seeds scattered on the floor. Simply turn that can opener, remove the lid and pour.
Add canned tomatoes to this Creamy Tomato, Microgreens and Potato soup recipe!
Don’t scurry past the canned aisle next time you’re in the supermarket. Stop, take a moment and consider the endless possibilities with just a single can of tomatoes.