Tuesday 1 April 2014

Tomato Passata - a chunky homestyle delicious sauce.

I just can't resist home made passata. It's simply sunshine in a bottle. When I lived in Cairns, I used to buy gorgeous plump ruby red tomatoes from the 'Happy tomato plantation' at Rusty's markets every week. These amazing farmers made the trip down from the tablelands each week so we could have the best and freshest produce. God bless farmers!!!!! I used buy kilos of their juicy tomatoes which only continued to get more delicious as they sat in a bowl on my windowsill and ripened further. 

Every time I'm in Cairns, I can't resist a trip to Rusty's markets to reminisce. I try and head in early on a Friday or Saturday morning and enjoy the mixture of tourists, backpackers, locals, farmers, buskers and characters. I buy myself a fresh coconut, a Govinda's yummy samosa or a Hasham's vegetable spring roll and walk around and enjoy. If I'm up home for a while, I usually arrive back at my Mum's house with a bunch of tropical flowers for her and a few bags of happy tomato plantation goodness - hopefully they are still there in the same spot - selling their gorgeous tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis eggplants and other delicious produce!

Tomato Passata - makes 750gms - 1 litre


1.5 to 1.6kgs ripe red tomatoes (make sure you leave them to ripen until they are red and soft to touch , or get your hands on a box of seconds)
1 brown onion
2-4 large cloves garlic (I use 4 large cloves)
a large hand full of basil leaves (I use the large sweet basil)
50gms olive oil
2 tablespoon of TM vegetable stock
2 tablespoons raw sugar
200-300gms water

a couple of stems of basil leaves for the preserving jars

TM Method

1.Prepare your tomatoes, with a paring knife, cut the core out of the tomato and cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato - this will mean that the skins will slip off easily once boiled. (I don't usually take the core out of mine, but you can)
2. Put the tomatoes in the varoma dish - you should be able to fit 1.5kgs approx at a time. If you are doing more than one batch of tomatoes, second and subsequent batches will only need 10 mins of steaming time. 



3.Cook tomatoes 20 mins | Varoma | Spd 2

4. Remove the varoma and set aside to cool (you may want to place a glass bowl underneath to catch any drips)

5. While the tomatoes are cooling, peel 1 medium brown onion, cut in half and add to TM bowl with peeled garlic cloves and basil. chop 1 sec | Sp 7 scrape down sides with spatula. Chop again 1 sec | Sp 7

6. Add 50gms olive oil and cook 4.5 mins | Varoma | Sp 2 with the MC off. Once the tomatoes are cool, peel off the skin off and add to TM bow with 200-300gms of water (if you have collected any cooking liquid in the bowl under the varoma from the tomatoes, you can use this as part of your 200-300gms water. I like 2 add 300gns but 200 with give you a slightly thicker sauce). Add 2 tbsp of TM vegetable stock & 2 tbsp sugar. 

7. Cook 45 mins | Varoma | Sp soft with basket sitting on top to prevent spitting. At the end of the 45 mins, taste and adjust seasoning if need be. If you prefer a thicker sauce you can reduce by cooking for a further 15 mins at varoma Spd soft with the basket on top.

8. Blend 5 secs | Sp 3. If you want a very smooth sauce, you can blend on a higher speed - be warned though, over processing of the tomatoes will cause the sauce to turn orange. 

If I am going to preserve this in bottles, I usually put a sprig of basil in the jar or bottle first and then pour the sauce on top. See below for my preserving tips.

I use this sauce as a base for so many meals - a base for pizza - just spread a little olive oil and then some of this sauce with some chopped garlic and add whatever toppings you please! I also use it for various pasta sauces. For a very quick easy lunchtime pasta, I mix some of this passata with a few tablespoons of smooth ricotta or a handful if crumbled feta and add a pinch of chilli flakes. Heat and stir through pasta (I would use Barilla Conchiglie Rigate for this sauce) with some freshly torn basil. I also use this with my Greek meatballs which are always a hit with my boys. 

Tip - You can freeze this sauce in portions (I always do 2-3 batches in a day) if you want to freeze for pizza, put some into icecube trays so you can take out a few at a time for quickly thawed pizza sauce. You can also bottle it. If you bottle, please follow preserving guidelines, using clean sterile bottles and bottle piping hot sauce into hot bottles.

I generally set my TM bowl of liquid aside after it's cooked and sterilise a 1 Lt bottle and lid in 500 mls water for 12 mins | varoma | sp 2. Then I add hot liquid to hot bottle/jar and seal immediately. Once I've completed all my batches, I boil the jars/bottles in a big pot with water up 3/4 of the side of the bottles or jars for 30 mins on a gentle simmer. 


A quick lunch pasta in progress. 

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