Posts Tagged ‘tomato passata’

Over the past year, our passata recipe has evolved considerably.  We still make the roasted tomato version, but Pete now combines that with a fresh passata that he makes by simply blanching, processing and draining Roma tomatoes.  The end result of this new method is a bright red, thick puree which is both sweet and clean tasting.

1. Start with good quality Roma tomatoes – the ones we bought from Jimmy at the markets were thick fleshed, and quite dry inside.

2. Cut these in half and squeeze the excess juice and seeds out as best you can.  The liquid inside the tomatoes is often slightly sour – removing and discarding it now leaves just the sweet pulp in the finished sauce.

3. Blanch the tomatoes briefly in boiling water – the aim is simply to heat them up and soften them so they’ll pass through the food mill.  You don’t want to actually cook them too much.  Drain well.

4. Pass the cooled tomatoes through a food mill or tomato juicer.  We put the extruded pulp back through a couple more times to extract every last bit of flavour from it – usually the final pass produces a thick paste which enriches the sauce.

5. Pour boiling water through a clean cloth, then use it to line a colander over a large bowl.  Pour the passata into the cloth and allow it to drain until thick.  Whatever you do, don’t throw out the juice that collects in the bowl below!  That’s delicious, pure tomato water – more on that in a future post.

Once your passata has drained thoroughly, it can be frozen in small containers for future use.  We mix ours with roasted tomato passata, to create a tomato concentrate which we find ideal for pastas and pizzas.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

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Whenever we can, we make our own tomato passata, using an adaptation of a Bill Granger recipe.  Forget your preconceived notions of sauce making being an all day affair involving barrels of tomatoes and backyard boilers – this is an easy way to make a reasonable quantity of passata in a relatively short time.  We freeze our sauce in one cup (250ml) takeaway containers, which is a good working quantity for us – one tub is enough to top three pizzas, or three tubs will make a batch of bolognese sauce.

To give you some idea of value – we bought a box of romas from Jimmy the Tomato Man last Friday for $10 ($1/kilo).  We still have two kilos left, which means the eight kilos we used cooked down to nine small takeaway containers.  It doesn’t seem like very much, but remember that the tomatoes have already reduced.  As a result, you don’t need to use nearly as much in a recipe, nor do you need to cook it for as long. Apart from being  more economical (our bolognese sauce uses $9 – $10 worth of tinned and bottled tomatoes, when we don’t have our own), the homemade passata tastes better – Big Boy now won’t eat pizzas topped with anything else.

Step 1: buy great tomatoes.  Romas are by far the best if you can afford them, but the recipe will work with any sort of red tomato, providing they’re ripe and juicy, but not too mushy. Wash them and cut them in half, then lay them out on a large oven tray lined with parchment paper.

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Step 2: Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle over with salt. Bake in a preheated 220C oven for about half an hour, or until some of the edges just start to blacken.

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Step 3: In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large pan and fry some chopped onion and garlic until soft.  Add the roasted tomatoes with any juices to the pan and stir well.

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Step 4: Add a large spoonful of tomato relish (optional). We use one that Pete makes.

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Step 5: Cook well until the skins separate from the tomato flesh and the passata is reduced and thickened to your liking.

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Step 6: Process the sauce through a food mill to remove the skins.

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Step 7: Ladle the finished passata into containers, label and store in the freezer.

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