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Cook’s stocking stuffer: Mutti of Parma tomato paste

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I love this stuff.

The other day I was making a soup out of some kale from the garden, some leftover chickpeas and a few odd potatoes (along with a bay leaf, some garlic and fresh thyme). But it needed something.

Found in the fridge: an almost used-up tube of Mutti tomato paste. I squeezed in a little and my soup came together. I really wouldn’t do it with any other tomato paste, but Mutti of Parma, Italy, produces the best.

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They’ve been making it since 1899. Their paste is double-concentrated and made only from tomatoes and salt. That’s it. After all the company’s motto is “solo pomodoro. Per passione” — only tomatoes, for passion.

The firm uses only Italian tomatoes and a slow process of dehydration. It’s easy to taste the difference — none of that sludgy, bitter or cooked-down taste of regular tomato paste. This tastes bright and carries the deep flavor of sun-warmed tomatoes.

Use it to beef up the tomato taste of a sauce, or add an underlying tomato note to a brasato or stew.

Any cook would love it as a stocking stuffer. Sold in 4.5-ounce tubes at $3 to $5, depending on where you buy it. Available at Mozza2Go and the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, among others. Save even more by buying in bulk: I ordered a six-pack from Amazon for $17.28 which works out to less than $3 per tube.

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-- S. Irene Virbila
Twitter.com/sirenevirbila


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