Thursday, 23 February 2012

Tomato Passata

Isn't it ironic that the day you set aside to make tomato passata, just so happens to be the warmest day you've had in a week? I didn't exactly "relish" the idea of turning my oven on today but if I was going to deal with the mega amount of fresh produce from our garden, it was time to get serious. I've been buried in tomatoes, basil and garlic from the garden for days and the guilt of having them hanging around my kitchen has finally gotten to me. Don't get me wrong, we've been enjoying bowls of pesto, mounds of caprese salad, bottles of homemade tomato ketchup and veritable loaves of tasty bruschetta for weeks. But the amount of produce we are reaping from our garden calls for an industrial-size preserving pan and a push-through-the-pain mindset.

This is a great recipe. It's not too heavily seasoned, which  means I can not only use it to gussie up pasta and all my Italian favourites, but also use it in Tex-Mex (yum), Moroccan, Greek...the list goes on. It's a very versatile store cupboard (or freezer) ingredient.

When the weather turns cool and the garden is full of winter vegetables, I'll be able to reach for my tomato passata and get an instant hit of summer. The hot day with me standing in the oven-heated kitchen pushing tomatoes through a moulie will be a far distant memory.

Tomato Passata
from Hugh Furnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Autumn

3-4kg ripe tomatoes (as many different varieties and sizes as possible)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Small handful of torn basil
4-5 cloves of garlic
Good trickle of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Depending on the size of the tomatoes, cut them either into halves or quarters. With very small or cherry tomatoes, pop them in whole but slash the skins first to release the juices. Place all of the tomatoes into a large roasting tin.

Crush and roughly chop the garlic and sprinkle it over the tomatoes with the salt and pepper.

Roughly tear the oregano, thyme and basil and scatter over tomatoes.

Drizzle over a little olive oil then roast in the oven for 45 minutes until slightly blistered and soft.

Cool after cooking, push through a moulie or sieve.

Bottle or freeze it in meal-size portions or use it straight away.

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