Recipe

Italian tomato passata sauce

The simple things are often the best.

  • 3 hrs cooking
  • Makes 22 cups
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Passata can be used as a simple pasta sauce or as the base for more elaborate ones. Use in any recipe that calls for chopped canned tomatoes, such as soups, bolognese sauce and lasagne. Two cups of sauce will serve 4 people, and 3 cups will serve six.
For a classic Sicilian pasta, fry a finely chopped small onion in a medium saucepan; add the sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce is thick and a deep red colour. Stir in a handful of frozen peas and season to taste. Toss sauce through cooked penne pasta.

Ingredients

  • 10 kilograms ripe roma or oxheart tomatoes
  • 1 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves

Method

  • 1
    Trim tops from tomatoes, cut in half crossways; discard seeds.
  • 2
    Divide tomato between two large saucepans, or place in a large boiler; cook, covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until tomatoes begin to soften. Cool 10 minutes. Using a jug, carefully skim and discard the excess water from the surface of the tomatoes (about 1½ cups from each pan).
  • 3
    See tip. Blend or process tomato, in batches, until smooth. Push tomato puree through a fine sieve, in batches, into a large bowl or jug; discard solids.
  • 4
    Pour tomato puree into 2-cup (500ml) or 3-cup (750ml) hot sterilised bottles or jars (do not completely fill bottles or jars to the top – leave at least a 2cm (¾ inch) space; push 3 basil leaves into each bottle. Seal immediately.
  • 5
    Wrap bottles in tea towels or several layers of newspaper; pack bottles tightly upright into a large tall saucepan or boiler. Cover bottles with boiling water; bring to the boil. Boil, covered, for 1 hour, replenishing water as necessary to maintain level. Cool bottles in water. Label and date bottles; refrigerate after opening.

Notes

For the best taste use very ripe egg tomatoes or specially grown 'sauce' tomatoes that are available from local markets in the late summer months.If you have a mouli or food mill, omit step 4 and instead pass the cooked tomato mixture through either of these to remove the tomato skin instead of a sieve, then continue recipe from step 5.
Passata can be used as a simple pasta sauce or as the base for more elaborate ones. Use in any recipe that calls for chopped canned tomatoes, such as soups, bolognese sauce and lasagne. Two cups of sauce will serve 4 people, and 3 cups will serve six. For a classic Sicilian pasta, fry a finely chopped small onion in a medium saucepan; add the sauce. Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce is thick and a deep red colour. Stir in a handful of frozen peas and season to taste. Toss sauce through cooked penne pasta.

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