Tomato Paste Is The Secret For Robust Flavors In Beans

A piping hot bowl of chili has everything you could possibly want from a bean recipe: It's both savory and hearty, with a touch of sweetness to balance it out. While this could be due to the plethora of spices used in it or the meaty ground beef, tomatoes provide all those qualities — and more. To give your beans the same robust flavor, cook them with tomato paste.

Like dried mushrooms in pasta or leftover parmesan rinds tossed into a broth, tomato paste is the secret to imparting an umami-rich flavor in soups, stews, stocks, and a variety of other dishes. With its ultra-concentrated tomato flavor, a spoonful or two of the paste is all you need to add depth to your beans. The method works with any beans and almost any type of dish. Simmer it with canned beans before making a spicy stew or mix it into cooked beans before serving as a side.

The easiest method is to heat it alongside your aromatics before pouring beans into the pot. Similarly to penne alla vodka, add a scoop of tomato paste to the pot once the onions, shallots, or garlic have softened. Allow the pungent flavors to infuse the tomato paste as you stir; for dried beans, deglaze with a broth and then cook the beans as normal.

Use tomato paste to elevate these bean recipes

Cook tomato paste down with onions and peppers to make a warming spicy bean stew. A mix of nutty cannellini beans and earthy black beans, the tomato paste adds a layer of depth and richness to the hearty meal. Accompanied by sweet corn, herbaceous cilantro, and zesty lime, the stew is perfect over a bed of warm, fluffy rice.

Imbue Mediterranean orzo with the robust flavor of beans simmered in tomato paste. Canned chickpeas, a few spices, and tomato paste come together to deliver a vibrant flavor to this hearty salad. While chickpeas bring earthiness, the tomato paste is potent, allowing them to be used instead of sun-dried tomatoes. After heating the tomato paste in olive oil, sprinkle sumac, thyme, black pepper, salt, and minced garlic into the pot and add the drained chickpeas, stirring well. Once they've cooled, toss the beans with the rest of the salad.

Soften black beans in tomato paste before making sweet potato and black bean tacos. While roasting the sweet potatoes, quickly heat canned black beans with tomato paste, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and salt. Toss it with canned corn, chopped cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and chopped bell peppers before assembling the taco.