SUPER THREE-TOMATO PASSATA
The success of this richly flavoured tomato passata/sauce relies on the quality of the raw ingredients as well as cooking it low and very slow – the longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more intensely flavoured it becomes. If you have the vines from the fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, do add them to the slow cooker as they add extra flavour. I like to make this sauce in bulk and freeze it in portions. It’s excellent served just as it is slightly chunky, or sieved and smooth. Alternatively, use as a base sauce for meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables. Once left to cool, the passata/sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for future use.
Makes about 1–1.5 litres/21/4–23/4 pints/5–51/2 cups
Low: 9–10 hours
4 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
700 g/1 lb 9 oz. ripe organic vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into thin wedges, retaining the vines
2 x 400 g/14 oz. cans plum tomatoes
60 g/21/4 oz./½ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
15 g/½ oz. basil sprigs
sea salt and cracked black pepper
Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onions and cook over a medium-low heat for 10 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fresh tomatoes and cook for a minute or so, gently crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spatula.
Transfer the onion mixture to the slow cooker pot with the canned plum tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and the reserved vines from the fresh tomatoes, if you have them. Cover and cook on low for 9–10 hours. Season with salt and pepper.
For a chunky sauce, remove the vines and roughly mash the sauce in the slow cooker using a potato masher. For a smooth passata/sauce, pass it through a sieve into a bowl; it’s easier to do this a couple of ladlesful at a time. Take your time pressing the tomatoes through the sieve to extract all the goodness and occasionally discarding any skin and seeds that build up in the sieve. The passata/sauce is ready to use as you wish, or left to cool and chilled for up to 3 days or frozen.
Ryland Peters & Small, 2017