EASY TOMATO PASSATA
Okay so not all of us have an incredible Nonna willing to spend days making us genuine old school pasta sauce, so here is the next best thing that wont require the whole family to get around to help bottle up the special sauce.
This sauce is incredibly versatile. From straight up pasta sauce with spaghetti to a pizza base sauce. You can tweak it to make home made ketchup or turn it into a salsa in a nacho bowl. There are so many uses, which is why I recommend making this in a big batch and freezing it for whenever you next need it.
In terms of organic tomato purees, I have found the best to be the Mutti brand but if buying organic isn't at the top of your priority list, you can also use Anna Lisa or Val Verde as well. But here's the kicker, if you really want to make the greatest sauce, be sure to source San Marzano canned tomatoes. There is a reason why the best pizza shops in Melbourne only use these in their sauce.
2 Bottles of 560g organic Mutti tomato puree
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Red Onion, finely diced
1 Cup of Water
2 Tbsp Raw Honey
1 Small handful freshly chopped herbs (my favourite is Dill, not traditional at all but it works however, you could use fresh Oregano if you prefer)
1 Tbs Dried Italian Herbs
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs Pink Salt Flakes
1. Take a large pot and place it on a medium heat. Add a dash of olive and fry your onion.
2. Once it becomes fragrant, add the garlic.
3. Before your garlic begins to brown add your tomato puree.
4. Then add the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid and allow to simmer away stirring occasionally for about 30-40mins.
5. The longer you allow it to simmer the better the sauce becomes. To make it extra special, some people like to use chicken stock instead of water and others like to add a dash of red or white wine. The alcohol evaporates in the cooking process, leaving a deeper richer flavour to the sauce.
6. Use a stick mixer to blend it down into a nice smooth sauce or wait till it cools down completely then pop into a blender to achieve the same result.
Fridge: 7 days
Freezer: 3 months
So why does this sauce work so well? Well here are a few key reasons:
Using fresh garlic particularly the Australian variety has more flavour (yes there are two types, Australian and Chinese). I'm still unsure why the Chinese variety doesn't taste as good or hold as much fragrance. Perhaps it's the long distance it has to travel but my generational (and critical) foodie family as well as the chefs from our cafe have tested it multiple times. Unfortunately the Chinese variety has poor quality. Don't bother ever using crushed garlic in the jar either, that's even worse. It contains citric acid which gives off a strong tang and by that point has lost most of its original flavour too. If you seriously can't be bothered peeling garlic (which is understandable) then at least use the Gourmet Garden brand. It's a cold blended paste which retains most of its original properties in a tube. However in summary, from both a health and cooking perspective, stick to fresh Australian garlic.
Red onions are sweeter and less harsh than brown onions but either way adding any onion really brings out the flavour.
Italian Nonnas won't tell you this but their secret little trick to overcome the acidity in tomatoes is to add sugar. As I principally try to avoid regular table sugar and opt for the natural kind, I used honey in this recipe. But you can use any sweetener you like
Adding fats to any dish injects flavour. Rather than using unhealthy saturated fats, in this case I've opted for olive oil, an un-saturated fat than can be beneficial to your health in modest amounts.
Pink salt flakes are far less processed than regular table salt. If you are going to go for any salt, make sure it has been formed and packed naturally.
Finally adding a mixture of fresh and dried herbs really take your sauce to another level. Without it, your sauce will taste flat.
Anne-Sophie Rayment, Nutritional Advisor.