Tomato Replacement

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yurell
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Tomato Replacement

Postby yurell » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:27 am UTC

When I was a child, I was allergic to tomato. Since then, I've become at least tolerant to it, but I still find the flavour disgusting. My main problem, however, is that almost every time I look up casserole recipes or anything like that, it is inevitable that almost all of them will have tomatoes in the recipe. I'm wondering if there's anything I can use as a tomato replacement on a generic level (that is, when a recipe suggests 'tomato', I can replace it with 'Food X' and most of the time it will be fine)? I figured that a subforum filled with people who are passionate about food might have some idea about this.

I tried (and failed) to look for an already existing thread to post this, and searching for 'tomato' was a somewhat fruitless endeavour in a food subforum.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby poxic » Sat Aug 10, 2013 1:40 am UTC

A tomato-avoidant friend of mine uses red peppers a lot. I also recall reading a recipe for mock tomato sauce that called for beets and carrots -- there seem to be a few similar recipes online.

I once tried beets alone as a tomato substitute. I don't particularly recommend it. :|
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby PAstrychef » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:43 am UTC

It depends on what the tomatoes are doing in the recipe. Are they adding some acid? A bit of lemon juice or cider vinegar could work. Are they adding umami? Some anchovy paste might do the trick. They also have lots of moisture if fresh, so you might need to add more liquid. Cheap red wine is a good choice. You could also try some of the concentrated tomato paste in a tube- it's been cooked so its flavor is not the same, and you can use just a bit at a time.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby Nath » Sat Aug 10, 2013 3:59 am UTC

Tamarind also works quite well for some purposes. You can get dried tamarind at your local Indian or SE Asian grocery.

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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby sardia » Sat Aug 10, 2013 5:58 pm UTC

The real question is, what are you trying to make? Chicken Parmesan with no tomatoes? Or simply a casserole? Because casseroles can be anything, like a breakfast version where you do ground meat/sausage, potatoes, cheese and ...say onions + garlic. Toss in a green pepper, and you're good.

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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby yurell » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:52 pm UTC

Thanks for the suggestions! I never would have thought of using tamarind; mostly casseroles and stews are the problem, because the bulk of them are made with tomatoes. For things like pizza I tend to use a basil pesto base, but it's just annoying going to any recipe book for pasta, soups, stew, casseroles and having 90% of what's available contain mostly something I won't eat. It's why I was hoping there was a generic substitute (like generally you can replace cous-cous with rice) and I could just work around the side cases.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby poxic » Sat Aug 10, 2013 10:56 pm UTC

I can ask my anti-tomato friend for tips. I know she makes chili with mostly peppers rather than tomatoes. I'll find out if she has any other general tactics.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby Nath » Sat Aug 10, 2013 11:32 pm UTC

Making chili with chilis rather than tomatoes is not so much a substitution tactic as it is making the dish correctly. (I like some tomatoes in my chili, sometimes, but not so much that it becomes a tomato-based sauce.)

yurell, where do you stand on tomatillos?

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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby yurell » Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:11 am UTC

Don't like them either, unfortunately — I'm fairly fussy when it comes to my food =P
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby poxic » Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:25 am UTC

Nath wrote:Making chili with chilis rather than tomatoes is not so much a substitution tactic as it is making the dish correctly. (I like some tomatoes in my chili, sometimes, but not so much that it becomes a tomato-based sauce.)

Red bell peppers subbing for tomato, not chilis for tomatp. Though there would indeed be chilis.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby Nath » Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:44 am UTC

Ah. That's still arguably a more traditional version of chili than the tomatoey version -- bell peppers, after all, being very mild chillies, and tomatoes being not any kind of chilli at all.

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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby EchoRomulus » Mon Aug 12, 2013 9:07 pm UTC

I am a confirmed tomato lover. However most recipes don't actually need tomatoes. I have a theory as to why.

Spoiler:
Tomatoes unlike apples or other fruits found in Europe are native to the Americas. In addition to this they were considered poisonous for a long time. Spain, which was first in the Americas, and Southern Italy, which belonged to Spain, adopted them first. As a result, they began putting tomatoes on everything. After two hundred years most people simply can't imagine recipes without tomatoes.


I suggest simply not using them. Even pasta, which in America traditionally always has a tomato based sauce, was in Italy hundreds of years before tomatoes and there are /many/ ways to eat it without tomato sauces.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby cerbie » Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:52 pm UTC

For summer-centric recipes, including salads, try fresh peaches. I'm serious. Fresh peaches work great in pasta with a light olive oil or butter sauce (though you might want to add a little fresh ginger, and stick to grassy-tasting herbs, instead of savory herbs), in lettuce-based salads, and in vegetable/fruit salads, that often include pungent cheeses (make a Greek salad w/ peaches instead of tomato, FI). They're different enough to not be a generic replacement, but they are a good replacement. Plums would probably work, too (I'm allergic to plums, so aside from the occasional really fresh one, because good ones are delicious enough to risk a benadryl, I avoid them).
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby mosc » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:10 pm UTC

Nath wrote:Making chili with chilis rather than tomatoes is not so much a substitution tactic as it is making the dish correctly. (I like some tomatoes in my chili, sometimes, but not so much that it becomes a tomato-based sauce.)

yurell, where do you stand on tomatillos?

Chili often has a tomato base. Your choices are really tomato base or broth base. If you're making a condiment style traditional chili (more of a sauce than a stew), tomato sauce really helps.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby Nath » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:29 am UTC

mosc wrote:Chili often has a tomato base. Your choices are really tomato base or broth base. If you're making a condiment style traditional chili (more of a sauce than a stew), tomato sauce really helps.

I have nothing against condiment-style tomatoey chili, but the word 'traditional' has no place in that sentence, unless preceded by 'non'.

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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby mosc » Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:19 am UTC

Chili is inherently tex mex in origin. Tomato base is the fundamental thing that made chili what it is. There is nothing authentically mexican about the entire concept. It's not a mole or a soup. The most common ingredient in Chili is all manor of Chili peppers. The next most common ingredient is beef. Number 3 is probably Tomato, at least in the traditional forms followed closely by beans. To me, the original chili is a thick condiment style meat sludge with copious chili ingredients and some tomato sauce in the base to bind the pepper and grease together. No beans.

I think we are way off topic.
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Re: Tomato Replacement

Postby Nath » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:20 am UTC

mosc wrote:Chili is inherently tex mex in origin.

Yes.

mosc wrote:Tomato base is the fundamental thing that made chili what it is. ... To me, the original chili is a thick condiment style meat sludge with copious chili ingredients and some tomato sauce in the base to bind the pepper and grease together.

No. Texas-style chili contains no tomatoes. It contains chunks of meat, peppers, suet, and other spices. Sometimes these were dried into bricks and reconstituted in hot water.

Now, you can prefer other kinds of chili, with beans or tomatoes or whatever. I often use these things in my chili. But if you're going to talk about 'original' or 'traditional' chili, your preferences don't override facts.

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