30 recipes that make the most of tinned tomatoes

olive magazine's cookery writer, Anna Glover, shares 30 ways to transform a can of tomatoes into a wonderful, healthy meal. Including pasta bakes, soups, stews, quick breakfasts, meatballs, chilli con carne, salsa, gazpacho and meatloaf.

1. Fridge-raider pasta bake


Onions? Check. Tinned tomatoes? Pasta? Double check. A spare bit of cheese? Then you’re onto a winner. Simmer the tomato sauce for 20 minutes to break down the chopped tomatoes and make a smoother sauce. Add a splash of water or wine, just before tipping in with the part-cooked pasta; it will absorb some of the water when cooking.

This is a midweek staple in our house. Just add the other bits that are going spare in your fridge. Crispy pancetta, diced chorizo, torn black olives, salty capers or a few chopped herbs. Cover with slices of mozzarella before baking, and everyone will ask for seconds.

2. Smoky tomato soup

Simmer a tin of chopped tomatoes with a jug of vegetable stock, a touch of chilli flakes and a large pinch of smoked paprika. Whizz until smooth, then add a touch of cream for a dash of luxury. Serve with garlicky croutons.

Or try our tomato soup with quick spring onion cornbread recipe instead

3. Baked eggs

If you’re sick of bacon butties (although that seems pretty unlikely) or fancy a veggie brekkie, baked eggs are great for a crowd. Tinned chopped tomatoes simmered with softened onions, red pepper and sometimes wilted spinach and a few spices.

This looks really pretty divided between individual baking dishes, with an egg cracked into the middle. Bake until the white has set, but the yolk is still runny. Get your bread ready for mopping up! Here’s a great recipe for a veggie packed baked eggs with spicy chorizo. Leave out the chorizo for a meat-free option.

Click here for our baked eggs with ratatouille and chorizo recipe

4. Spicy potatoes

Think patatas bravas, but the super easy version. Make a spicy tomato sauce with tinned chopped tomatoes, green peppers, onions and paprika, and spoon over leftover roasties or even new potatoes. I love these served with a pork chop or even a sausage to brighten a midweek meal.

5. Chilli chicken stew

This is one for the whole family, and you can add loads of veg for a healthy one-pot without worrying about the washing up. Tinned tomatoes make a perfect base for a chilli-spiked stew, served with buttered couscous or a herby quinoa.

Click here for our spicy chicken and pepper stew with herb quinoa recipe

6. Cheats chilli

This is only a cheats version if you haven’t got four hours to stew chuck or braising steak. By using black beans to bulk out this chilli, and leaving out the meat, the cooking time is reduced by about half.

The beans will be tender and delicious, especially if you use a strong beef stock. Tins are your best friend in this recipe: tinned tomatoes, beans and sweetcorn if you like!

Click here for our black bean chilli with guacamole and garlic ciabatta

7. Chopped tomatoes on toast

Never been a fan of baked beans? How about a healthier but still as comforting version, using simmered chopped tomatoes with fresh oregano or basil, and a dash of balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce. Tip onto toasted wholemeal toast for a worthy breakfast without the carb overload.

8. Baked meatballs

We all know by now that this is a winner, but that doesn’t stop us going on about it. Super easy to make, easily freezable for family meals, and ready in a dash. Make two at the weekend and thank yourself midweek.

Click here for our Italian baked meatballs recipe

9. Best ever chilli con carne

When you’ve got a bit more time on your hands, and nothing else will hit the spot.

Click here for our best ever chilli con carne recipe

10. Baked cod

Ready in 20 minutes, this is a great meal to whip up after work. It’s pretty healthy too, at only 252 cals per serving. The combination of tomato, chilli and chorizo creates a sweet, spicy, smoky trio of flavours that host a fantastic party for delicately flaky cod. Use whatever white fish you can get that’s fresh, sustainable, and in season.

Click here for our cod with tomato and chorizo sauce recipe

11. Melanzane parmigiana

This is a crowd pleaser that’s great for veggies and meat eaters alike. Melty cheese, soft aubergine and tomato sauce are layered for Italian comfort food.

Make individual dishes for more of a restaurant feel. Serve with a crisp green salad and garlic bread on the side.

Click here for our aubergine parmigiana recipe

12. Chopped minestrone

Packs of tortellini usually last quite a while in the fridge, so they’re good to have on hand if you’re in a rush. This recipe is ready in 20 minutes and great if you’re trying to bump up your veg count.

Chunky minestrone with courgette, celery, carrots, onion and tinned tomatoes is a quick solution if you fancy a change from regular pasta and sauce.

Click here for our quick minestrone with tortellini recipe

13. Spaghetti puttanesca

Spaghetti puttanesca, or ‘tart’s pasta’, needs no introduction. Salty, tangy and subtly sweet, this recipe works well with tinned cherry tomatoes, chopped anchovies and pitted black olives. This can be one of the most satisfying meals for one or two people.

14. Lamb steaks with spiced tomato sauce

Leg steaks are a relatively cheap cut of lamb, and don’t need a lot of cooking. Coriander and cumin perk up chopped tomatoes to make a fragrant sauce. Serve with basmati, couscous or leafy greens. A good alternative to sirloin steaks if you’re not a fan of beef.

Click here for our lamb steaks with spiced tomato sauce recipe

15. Spicy prawn linguine

I always keep frozen prawns in the freezer because they’re quick to defrost and cook. This recipe is quick and healthy, so make sure you add ginger and parsley to your shopping list; everything else you can rummage in your cupboards for. Try a few teaspoons of chipotle Tabasco instead of chilli flakes for a smokier flavour.

Click here for our spicy prawn linguine recipe

16. Puy lentil bolognese

Meat takes a back seat in our puy lentil bolognese as we swap beef mince with hearty lentils and chopped chestnut mushrooms. Tagliatelle or linguine is best with this recipe, so the rich tomato sauce sticks to the pasta.

Click here for our puy lentil bolognese recipe

17. Turkey meatball subs

Meatball subs are verging on ‘dirty food’ for me. Buttery bread, juicy meatballs and a sweet pepper/tomato sauce. It sounds messy, but in a very good way.

Using turkey mince, they’ve got less saturated fat than the beef mince alternative, and sweet potato wedges are healthier than fries… so actually, this recipe isn’t that bad at all. Just resist the urge to top each sub with a whole ball of melty mozzarella.

Click here for our turkey meatball sub with quick wedges recipe

18. Moroccan meatloaf

Apricots, olives and pistachios give a Moroccan twist to an American classic, and the spiced tomato sauce works as a fantastic accompaniment.

This sauce would work well with sausages, eggs and even simple grilled fish; all you need is a few storecupboard staples, and a couple of tins of toms!

Click here for our Moroccan meatloaf recipe

19. Salsa

Rather than a fresh, chopped tomato salsa, tinned tomatoes make more of a dipping salsa for chips. Stir in coriander, red onion and diced jalapeno, and a couple of dashes of chipotle Tabasco for punchy dip for snacking. Serve with a pot of cooling soured cream and some guac and you’ve got yourself a fiesta.

20. Five-minute gazpacho

The perfect alfresco summer snack. Blend ice cubes, tinned tomatoes, cucumber, celery, veg stock, red pepper and a dash of olive oil and sherry vinegar in a liquidiser. Season well and sieve (but only if you can be bothered). Serve in glasses and top with crunchy croutons.

21. Prawn curry

Prawn curry
 doesn’t get easier than this! A sizzle of chilli and prawns mixed together in a creamy coconut sauce. Ready in 20 minutes. Serve with steamed rice or roti.

22. Pork, chilli and bean stew

This spicy stew combines pork with chopped tomatoes, green beans, red peppers and onion: ideal to warm your bones when the wind is whistling outside. New potatoes bulk up this one-pot, so there’s minimal washing up, too.

23. Red lentil, chickpea and chilli soup

Packed full of middle eastern flavours, this winter warming recipe makes a great healthy midweek dinner option.

24. Cauliflower rice with aubergine ragoût

This recipe for cauliflower rice with aubergine ragoût is really on-trend. By blitzing cauliflower in a food processor, and quickly cooking, you get the consistency and texture of rice but without the carbs and with fewer calories. It still fills you up, and it’s quicker to cook, too.

25. Mexican sweet potato bowl with guacamole

This Mexican sweet potato bowl with guacamole is a delicious, comforting bowl of veggie goodness. Pop into ASDA on your way home for a super easy supper ready in under an hour.

26. Chickpea and spinach curry

Got some tins of chopped tomatoes and chickpeas in the cupboard, but stuck for inspiration? Try this wholesome veggie curry featuring spinach and potatoes.

27. Chicken tikka masala

Britain’s favourite dish is a hybrid Indian curry recipe born in the UK. Make sure your chicken gets nicely browned at the edges to add flavour for a fragrant, delicious tikka masala.

28. Grilled cod with salsa rossa

This recipe for grilled cod with salsa rossa is quick and easy and under 300 calories.

29. Chickpea, red pepper and spinach curry

This vegetarian chickpea, red pepper and spinach curry is flavoured with ginger, chilli, garam masala, cumin and turmeric and makes a wonderful quick after work meal, ready in less than 30 minutes and served with Indian naan or chapatis.

30. Meatball melt lasagne

This indulgent lasagne is a great dinner party pleaser to assemble then bake just before your guests arrive. Really meaty and full of great texture, your guests will keep coming back for more. An easy winner!

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