Monday, October 26, 2015

Baffling Tomato Sauce & Tomato Sauce With Olives and Capers

Pot of Tomato Sauce
Tomato Sauce

What's Ingredients Are In Tomato Sauce

Food labels always baffle me. You think you understand them but, like a good mystery novel, the unexpected always happens. For instance, I noticed a can of Hunt’s Tomato Sauce boasting a ‘Fat Free’ Status. Funny I thought, I never knew tomatoes contained fat—unless of course there is a new hybrid tomato laden with fat. Which you never know, food scientists are doing some funky things these days, like growing ground beef in a petri dish as recently reported in the National Geographic.

I just presumed tomato sauce was simply tomatoes mushed-up with a little water, like tomato juice but thicker. But on reading the ingredient list I noticed cottonseed oil, which sounds like a fat. Right? So how can it be “fat free”?

I phoned up Hunt’s and asked. They told me the cottonseed oil is used as a preservative and as the amount is so small, they don’t list it on the Nutrition Facts Label. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency website, “Fat Free” means less than .05 grams of fat per serving size which, in this case, is half a cup.

So, technically it’s fat free. However, why should tomato sauce claim to be fat free in the first place?

My tomato sauce curiosity was piqued so I purchased three other brands and, although neither contained cottonseed oil or claimed to be ‘fat free,’ they all had other self-proclaimed attributes. By the way, cottonseed oil comes from the seeds of a cotton plant, which is not a vegetable (we wear cotton, we don’t eat it). One boasted “Source of Vitamin A.” the other, “Low Sodium” and the last one was a proud “product of Italy.” All four had different ingredients and nutritional facts listed. Purchasing tomato sauce turned out to be a true puzzle. It is no wonder labels and products baffle me.

Bowl of tomato sauce.
Tomato sauce with olives, capers and Parmesan cheese

Tomato Sauce with Olives and Capers

Serve with a green salad and baguette

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup black olives, pitted and halved
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz/796ml can diced tomatoes)
1 (213 ml) can tomato sauce
¼ cup red wine (optional)
black pepper, to taste
Parmesan Cheese, grated
454 grams dried pasta, cooked according to package directions

In a medium-large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic. Sauté for 4 minutes. 

Reduce the heat to medium and add the olives, capers, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes and sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes, sauce, and red wine. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until reduced slightly, about 20 minutes. 

 Serve on top of cooked pasta. Pass the pepper and grated Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

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How Food Packaging is Misleading

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