Passata vs Tomato Paste. Using Tomato in Your Everyday Cooking.

Passata vs Tomato Paste. Using Tomato in Your Everyday Cooking.

Passata vs tomato paste?

If there is one staple ingredient that most of us would find truly impossible to live without, tomatoes might just be it. More specifically, store cupboard tomatoes. Chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato paste, sundried tomatoes; all used in slightly different ways to bring your cooking to life.

Tomatoes are an important ingredient in the kitchen and are about far more than just the taste of tomato. They bring acidity, sweetness, savoury depth, and body to dishes. They can come to the foreground (as in a pizza or pasta sauce) or they can be barely discernible (as in a rich meaty sauce). Either way, without tomatoes your dish would quite possibly be flat and lifeless.

But which to choose? When should you use tomato paste? Or tomato passata? Are they really that different?

What is Tomato Passata?

Tomato passata is a smooth puree that has been strained of seeds and skins. It’s known for its velvety texture and deep, vibrant flavour, which makes it a fantastic base for a whole host of dishes – think hearty stews, aromatic curries, and, of course, the perfect pizza sauce. Unlike chunkier tomato products, passata offers a consistency that’s both rich and perfectly smooth, allowing it to blend seamlessly into your dishes.

Our tomato passata with basil is 100% organic

How is Passata made?

Passata begins with ripe, juicy tomatoes that are first washed thoroughly. These tomatoes are then cut, often quartered, to help extract their juice and flavour more efficiently. The pieces are cooked for a short while to soften them up and release their flavour.

After cooking, the tomatoes are strained through a fine sieve or passed through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds, leaving behind a smooth, velvety tomato puree. This puree is then seasoned lightly, often with basil, and briefly heated again. The final step involves bottling the hot passata and sealing it to preserve its freshness and flavour. This method ensures that the rich taste of fresh tomatoes is locked in, ready to enhance your dishes whenever you need a burst of tomato goodness.

When to use passata

Passata is lighter and brighter than chopped tomatoes, so whilst it is great for recipes where you don’t want bits, it also has a different flavour profile. The more you cook it and reduce it down, the deeper the flavour will become.

There are a few instances where you could use it straight from the jar. Used this way, it is at it lightest and brightest. You might want to use it straight on a pizza base, or as a marinade.

Mostly though, tomato passata is used to create sauces. From a quick light pasta sauce to a slow cooked ragout. Remember, the longer you cook it, the more concentrated it becomes. For a quick pasta sauce, soften some finely chopped onion and a little garlic in a frying pan with olive oil, pour in passata and let it cook for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add a drizzle of oil and you are good to go.

If you want a deeper pasta sauce, you would add more passata and cook it down slowly until it becoems thicker and redder. If it becomes bitter, don’t add sugar; add salt.

For tomato-ey stews and braises in the oven, add the passata over the browned ingredients and cook covered for several hours. It will again reduce, and become redder.

What is Tomato Paste?

Tomato paste is a thick, concentrated paste with a deep red colour and a robust, intense tomato flavour.

Unlike passata, which is lighter and more fluid, tomato paste is used in small quantities to impart a powerful tomato essence to dishes. It’s a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world for adding depth and richness to sauces, stews, and soups. Its concentrated flavour makes it an excellent choice for boosting the taste profile of a dish without adding excess liquid and also acts as a thickener.

Our tomato paste is 100% organic

How is Tomato Paste made?

The process starts with fresh, ripe tomatoes, which are first washed and then cooked down slowly to reduce their moisture. As they break down, their flavours and aroma intensify. Once they’ve reached the perfect consistency, the mixture is strained to remove seeds and skins.

The strained tomatoes are then cooked down even further, often for several more hours, until they’re reduced to a fraction of their original volume. This process deepens the colour to a vibrant red and enhances the tomato flavour, making it super concentrated and powerful.

When to use tomato paste

You won’t usually want to use tomato paste raw as it can be very bitter.

Tomato paste is your secret weapon when you’re looking to add a burst of tomato flavour to your cooking. It’s particularly handy in recipes where the tomato essence is desired without introducing additional liquid, making it perfect for thickening and enriching the taste of your dishes. Use a tablespoon or two in your next stew, soup, or sauce to deepen the flavour. It’s also ideal for making a robust base for chilli, marinara, and even homemade pizza sauce.

Tomato paste is best when added at the beginning. After you have softened your base, but before you add liquids. Stir it in and cook it out for a few minutes before adding your liquid. If you find that you didn’t add enough at the beginning, you add it later on. But do remember that it needs to cook out.

Remember, a little goes a long way due to its highly concentrated nature, so start with a small amount and adjust according to your taste.

Sundried Tomatoes

There’s another useful type of store cupboard tomato and that’s sundried tomatoes.

What are sundried tomatoes?

Sundried tomatoes are made by leaving ripe tomatoes to dry out in the sun over several days. This process removes most of the water content from the tomatoes, leaving behind a rich, chewy texture and an intensified tomato taste. Sundried tomatoes can be found in various forms – either dry-packed or preserved in olive oil, with or without herbs.

They’re fantastic for adding a burst of flavour to salads, pasta, pizzas, and even sandwiches, making them a must-have in any pantry for those looking to infuse their dishes with a Mediterranean flair.

Our organic sundried tomatoes are dry packed and free from sulphites

When to use sundried tomatoes

If passata brings bright tomato flavour to your sauces, and tomato paste helps to add depth, then sundried tomatoes complete the trio by adding a burst of sweetness.

They can be used as they are, reconstituted in boiling water, or even marinated in olive oil and herbs. Used in cooking, alongside passata, they will melt down and add extra sweetness. Tossed into salads, pasta, or sandwiches, they will add a chewy burst of intensely sweet tomato flavour.

Either way, they are a great addtion to your store cupboard tomato arsenal.

Explore our range of organic ingredients to bring life and flavour to your cooking, without the nasties! Find out more about organic products in our article ‘beyond produce’.

This article was reproduced on this site with permission from the “Asian Grocery Wholesalers”.
See original article:- Passata vs Tomato Paste. Using Tomato in Your Everyday Cooking.