‘Tomate frito’ recipe for using up tomatoes

Tomate frito means ‘fried tomato’ in Spanish and is a delicious yet simple tomato sauce made from fresh tomatoes. It’s a fantastic way of using up squishy, overripe tomatoes. It’s popular not only in Spain but across the Mediterranean.

This recipe was sent to us by the Restore Littlemore recovery group, where they made this sauce with their members.

The key to the flavour of this recipe is cooking it for a long time, and of course adding plenty of olive (or other vegetable) oil! The more ripe and flavoursome the tomato, the better it will taste, but any tomatoes will work well.

  • 1.5 kg tomatoes
  • A full head of garlic (10-12 cloves)
  • 10 tablespoons of olive oil (olive oil is best but any vegetable oil will do)
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed herbs, or oregano 

Chop the tomatoes into quarters and set aside.

Chop or crush the garlic and fry in a high-sided pan with olive oil for a couple of minutes at a medium high heat. Using a saucepan instead of a frying pan will help keep the water in the mixture and stop it from drying and burning. 

Next, add the tomatoes to the pan and fry them for a further 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and lower it to low/medium heat. 

Cook for 1-1.5 hours to make a sauce. The longer you cook it, the more it will reduce down. If you want to make your own concentrated tomato paste, cook for up to 2 hours!

Serving suggestions

Tomate frito makes a delicious sauce for pasta or rice. You can also fry a couple of eggs in the mixture at the end to make a Sunday morning breakfast! Or add it to curries, dahls or stews to boost the flavour.


This sauce will store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Kept in the freezer, it will have the best flavour if eaten within 6 months, but it is still safe to eat after that.

How to ripen store-bought tomatoes

This recipe works best with ripe, flavoursome tomatoes. Supermarket tomatoes are often not fully ripe and don’t have as much flavour. You can ripen them by placing them in a paper bag for a week in a warm area in your kitchen. Adding a banana or apple will help speed up the process, as these fruits release gases that ripen other fruits. That said, it’s best to keep bananas and apples away from ripe fruits as they can make them spoil more quickly!

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