5 Things You Can Do with a Can of Diced Tomatoes

By: Hannah Klinger

Transform a can of diced tomatoes with these five unexpected dinner ideas that go way beyond a soup or chili stir-in.

Featured recipe: One-Pot Tomato Basil Pasta

Sponsored by Muir Glen Organic

Those diced tomatoes in your pantry are more versatile than you think. Beyond stirring them into a pot of soup or chili, though, you might be surprised at how many ways diced tomatoes can inspire your dinner.

We love that a can of diced tomatoes includes both the lighter tomato juices (a great stand-in for broth, as you'll see below) and pieces of firm, diced tomato (no messy squeezing or mashing needed, as with stewed or whole versions). Not only are canned tomatoes, like Muir Glen Organics, a delicious way to eat more veggies, they also have more of the antioxidant lycopene than raw tomatoes. Choose no-salt-added or low-salt varieties to avoid too much sodium.

Here are five dish ideas that totally transform a can of diced tomatoes, while making your meals even more flavorful (plus five bonus ideas because we just love them that much). We call that a pantry and dinner win-win!

Try These: Healthy Canned Tomato Recipes

Make Skillet Eggs or Beans

Baked Eggs, Tomatoes & Chiles (Shakshuka)

Featured recipe: Baked Eggs, Tomatoes & Chiles (Shakshuka)

Need a quick and inexpensive meal? Utilize these pantry staples by adding a vegetarian protein—eggs or beans—to diced tomatoes. This quick dinner is a great last-minute or nothing-in-the-house meal.

Diced tomatoes are a hearty base for eggs in shakshuka. Make a couple of wells in your tomato mixture, add eggs, then cover and simmer until the whites are just set. Serve with toasted bread for dunking.

Use canned beans instead of eggs for a similar dish. Start by sautéing garlic, onion and crushed red pepper in olive oil, then add a can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans and cook a couple minutes more. Add a can of diced tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the liquid is slightly reduced. Stir in baby spinach, top with shredded mozzarella cheese and broil just until the cheese melts.

Related: Quick & Budget-Friendly Suppers with Canned Beans

Cook Rice or Couscous

Middle Eastern Chicken & Chickpea Stew

Featured recipe: Middle Eastern Chicken & Chickpea Stew

Substitute the flavorful canned tomato juices for broth or water when cooking grains like rice or couscous. Separate the diced tomatoes from their liquid first, then measure the juices and add water, if necessary, to get the amount of liquid you need.

Stir the diced tomatoes in with the uncooked grains and liquid before simmering—they'll soften and lose some of their acidity as the liquid is absorbed. Serve as a side or as the base for a grain bowl with veggies, protein and cheese. Go Mediterranean with Kalamata olives, chickpeas and feta, or try Mexican with jalapeño, black beans and shredded Monterey Jack.

Related: Healthy Budget Rice Recipes

Steam Mussels or Poach Fish

Cod with Tomato Cream Sauce

Featured recipe: Cod with Tomato Cream Sauce

Give your seafood a bit more oomph by cooking it in canned diced tomatoes and their liquid instead of broth. Add other aromatics like crushed garlic cloves, citrus slices, bay leaves or sprigs of oregano or basil. The best part of this method is that the cooking liquid doubles as a sauce—spoon it over brown rice or serve with toasted bread and dinner is done!

Remember to use the right ratio of liquid to seafood (you may need to add a little extra broth or water), cook over gentle heat, and cover with a lid so it doesn't dry out.

Related: 5 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat (and 5 to Avoid)

Use as the Base for Curry

Chickpea & Jackfruit Curry

Featured recipe: Chickpea & Jackfruit Curry

Many curries get their sauciness from some form of canned tomatoes—they thicken nicely after simmering and make the perfect counter to heady spice blends, intense curry pastes and rich cream or yogurt. Start by sautéing aromatics (onion, garlic and ginger) and spices (garam masala, curry powder or a concentrated curry paste) in oil, then stir in pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breast (or cauliflower florets, cubed eggplant or jackfruit for a vegetarian version). Cook until no longer pink, then stir in a can of diced tomatoes, cover and simmer until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked through.

Watch Now: How to Make a 15-Minute Chickpea Curry

Make Gazpacho, Pesto or Salsa

Roasted Tomato & Almond Pesto

Featured recipe: Roasted Tomato & Almond Pesto

Gazpacho, a cold soup from Southern Spain, is so refreshing, and makes a great no-cook option for when you just don't feel like turning on the stove. It's also an easy way to use up the odds and ends of vegetables in your fridge, like that quarter of a bell pepper from last night's stir-fry or that last little bit of fresh parsley.

We like a combination of cucumber, yellow bell pepper and red onion. Blend these together first, then add a can of diced tomatoes, olive oil and a splash of red wine or sherry vinegar and blend until smooth.

Along the same lines, you can also make a simple pesto or salsa in your blender. Separate the diced tomatoes from their juices first and blend just the solids with the other ingredients, adding enough tomato liquid to reach your desired chip-dipping consistency.

Try These: Healthy Salsa Recipes

5 More Ways to Use a Can of Diced Tomatoes

One-Pot Italian Sausage & Kale Pasta

Featured recipe: One-Pot Italian Sausage & Kale Pasta

We can't resist a bonus round, so here are even more ways to use a can of diced tomatoes:

• Make your own canned green chile and tomato blend (you know the one) for queso dip.
• Stir into mac and cheese.
• Add texture to a pasta sauce.
• Perk up simply sautéed kale, green beans or broccolini.
• Make your own stovetop barbecue sauce.

WATCH: How to Make Tomato & Artichoke Gnocchi

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