Here's what you can substitute for tomatoes

While tomatoes remain a cornerstone of the American diet, there are several reasons why home chefs might have to locate last-minute replacements. According to Medical News Today, some people may experience allergic reactions to tomatoes, a member of the nightshade family, which can lead to "breathing problems, a rash, or eczema," as well as trouble with digestion. Others simply don't like the taste of tomatoes, which creates a need for substitutes in dishes like pastas or salads.

Also, as with any fruit or vegetable, supply and demand can always affect availability and pricing. Early in 2020, Ford's Produce Co. warned that "wet weather" in Mexico, plus a light harvest in Florida, were "causing big-time shortages" among tomatoes like the Roma variety.

In short, it's a good idea to keep tomato alternatives on hand for a variety of reasons — and tinker with the many possibilities if you don't have any fresh toms and your recipe calls for them.

Possible tomato substitutes

If tomatoes simply aren't available, HuffPost recommends some possible replacements that may be stored in the pantry: Per pound of fresh tomatoes in a recipe, you can instead use 1.5 cups of whole tomatoes, canned; six to eight sundried tomato halves, plumped in hot water; or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste (adding water if needed for extra volume).

On the other hand, if allergies or taste considerations are the main tomato barriers, creative chefs have whipped up tomato-less recipes, like "nomato" sauce (via Food.com), which instead combines carrot, beet, onion, celery, bay leaf, and water. Delishably suggests trying ajvar (a jarred red pepper paste) to emulate rich tomato flavor; using spices like bouillon, paprika, and chili powder in soups, stews, or chili; or replacing raw tomatoes with cucumbers slathered in hot sauce to add texture and flavor.

Finally, Organic Facts recommends both readily found and less-expected replacements, like red bell pepper, tamarind paste, unripe mango, gherkins, or even a splash of vinegar to add a bit of bite to liquid formulations like soups and sauces.

As many of these potential replacements are shelf-stable, they'll hold up over the long haul for use whenever tomatoes aren't available (or preferred).