Passata

A tomato and herb sauce, perfect for pizzas

If you’re going to make your own pizza from scratch, you may need to make a passata (a thick tomato sauce). This passata takes about an hour to make and essentially involves simmering tomatoes and fresh herbs over a low heat until they are transformed into a thick and flavourful paste for spreading on the pizza dough. The way I make my passata is very relaxed, and it tends to vary depending on what I have in the cupboard and what herbs are available in the garden. You can use fresh tomatoes for natural sweetness, but to make this recipe all year round I usually use canned tomatoes, preferably not already chopped to give better flavour.
There was much debate between the crew of hungry recipe tasters and me over whether you should add garlic to the passata, and the general consensus was to leave it out to keep the sauce as a subtle flavour, letting the pizza toppings take centre stage. This is entirely subjective however, so do add it to the recipe if it will compliment your toppings.

INGREDIENTS

Makes enough for one 30cm x 35cm pizza, or two of half that size

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 x 400g can whole tomatoes
  • handful of herbs, finely chopped - oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil - whatever you fancy
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional, to taste)
  • salt and black pepper

METHOD

Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat, then add the tomatoes, and use a wooden spoon to break them up while you stir. Add your herbs, reduce the heat to low, and let the sauce simmer for about 1 hour. Give it a stir from time to time to make sure it doesn’t stick, and check that the heat is not too high.

The sauce will cook down and start to thicken. If it tastes a little bitter, add a touch of sugar; you don’t need a lot, just enough to take the edge off. After about an hour it should have thickened up so that you have a spreadable tomato sauce for your pizza base.