Tomato passato (or passata, depending on who you ask) is one of the foundational ingredients in Italian cuisine. It’s not quite a tomato puree or a tomato paste, but a simple sauce that can be punched up or kept simple. The key is fresh, meaty tomatoes with lots of flavor. One of my favorite meals in Florence was a simple bowl of penne with passato, so here I am trying to emulate it. Enjoy!
2 pounds fresh tomatoes (preferably romas)
1/4 cup olive oil
4 whole cloves garlic
4 sprigs basil, tied together
salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound pasta
Preheat oven to 450F
Place whole tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cook until soft and the skin is pulling away, about 20 minutes. Run them through the food mill on the tiniest hole (the holes need to be small enough that no seeds will go through) or put in a blender and strain. After straining heat up a medium pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and whole cloves of garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown all around (about 5 minutes). Add the strained tomatoes a whole bunch of basil tied together with string, turn heat to low, and cook until slightly thick, about 45 minutes (but a longer simmer will deepen the flavor). Taste and season with salt and pepper. Use the sauce immediately or pour into sanitized jars, seal, and chill. It will last 3 weeks in fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.
Enjoy with any pasta, add a bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese to liven things up. Brown some meat with carrots, onions, and celery and in 3 to 4 hours you have a Ragout It’s super versatile, and delicious in almost any situation.