We're big fans of Muir Glen Organic tomatoes here at Serious Eats. Turns out many well-know chefs across the country love the products as well. So, we've partnered with them to create The Muir Glen Cooking School. We've tapped these all-star chefs to find out just how they use canned tomatoes--from diced to whole to fire-roasted--so you can learn tips and tricks on how to use which kinds of tomatoes in what dishes, just like the pros. If you've got your own favorite canned tomato tips, share them on twitter using hashtag #muirglencookingschool.
Our first round of chefs weighs in below!
I like to take the whole canned tomatoes and make a quick tomato sauce by toasting some garlic and adding a can of whole tomatoes. I crush them with a potato masher, and when slightly thick, I like to place in a filet of snapper or striped bass and cover and gently simmer the fish in it. When ready, I will take the fish out and add some herbs and pasta to the sauce, some good virgin olive oil and eat!
-Bill Telepan, Telepan, New York
You can make a really simple salsa roja with canned tomatoes. It's about caramelizing the onions, adding the garlic, sweating the tomatoes, and jalapeno's or serranos, cooking about 45 minutes, then pureeing. This is a simple salsa from which there are tons of things to make.
For example, take this salsa and make a yummy chilaquiles. You have that salsa made and it's in your fridge. Pull it out, add a bit of heavy cream, some chips, some Mexican cheeses ideally, add the red salsa, reduce a bit, and top with a fried egg. This is a great breakfast, lunch or dinner. This is a great leftover dish. You can add anything to this: protein, roasted vegetables, poblanos to make it heartier. But, truly, chilaquiles with a red salsa is one of my faves.
From this base of salsa roja, made with the canned tomatoes, you can make tortilla soup too, which is also easy to do and amazingly enough, everyone's favorite. Here's what you do: you caramelize onions, add some freshly chopped garlic, add in a few chipotle chilies, add the salsa roja, add broth vegetable or chicken stock, add crispy tortilla chips, check seasoning, cook about 30 minutes and you have tortilla soup! Garnish with panella cheese, avocado and cilantro and lime and it's done.
Ketchup! We make our house ketchup using canned tomatoes because it is one of those recipes we want to be the same every time, and the tomato season can be a fickle one. Two tricks to making the ketchup, first one has to do with the onions and the second the tomatoes. First trick: rather than sweat or sauté the onions, simmer them in apple cider vinegar with sugar. The second we have learned, this is the most important, is to use canned chopped tomatoes. Our recipe calls for two cans and we drain one can to have the right balance of tomato juice (one can drained and one can with liquid). Too much juice and it is too liquidy and soupy; not enough and you end up with tomato paste.
-Gabriel Rucker, Le Pigeon, Portland, Oregon
To braise hearty greens, sauté a few strips of bacon, chopped, and add half a can of crushed tomatoes. Bring this to a simmer, toss in the washed, roughly chopped greens, put the lid on, and cook on low until tender. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.-Tom Douglas, Dahlia Lounge, Serious Pie, Etta's Seafood, Seattle
Being from Michigan I'm always about seasonality, and we only use fresh tomatoes in the summer because of our short growing season. With modern technology, canned tomatoes are picked and processed at their peak of ripeness so most of the year I happily use them them in charcuterie, which is one of my specialties. Whole tomatoes I might confit in extra-virgin olive oil, diced tomatoes I would use in my chicken basil sausage, and the fire roasted tomatoes I would use to create a sauce for a fire-roasted fish.
-Brian Polcyn, The Forest Grill, Detroit
So closes the first session of Muir Glen Cooking School. Stay tuned for more tips, and don't forget to share your own using hashtag #muirglencookingschool!