Passata recipe

Any fan of Italian cuisine should learn how to make passata – the classic tomato sauce – here’s how to do it! Recipe & image by Mario Matassa


Makes 4 x 250g jars
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes, plus sterilising


• 2kg ripe but firm plum tomatoes

• 3 tbsp olive oil

• 1 onion, peeled, finely chopped

• 1 garlic clove, peeled, crushed

• 1 tsp sugar

• salt and freshly ground black pepper

• a few basil leaves


1 Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the tomatoes in batches. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from the water using a slotted spoon. 

2 Pass the tomatoes through a mouli to remove the skin and seeds, then mash to a fine purée. If you do not have a mouli you could push the tomatoes through a sturdy sieve or remove the skins and seeds by hand, then finely chop the pulp. Place the tomato pulp in a bowl and set aside.

3 In a large pan, heat the oil and add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened, then add the tomato pulp and sugar. Season generously. Allow the sauce to simmer gently for 30 minutes, or until it has thickened to the right consistency. 

4 When ready, ladle the sauce into sterilized jars, placing a few basil leaves in each jar. Secure the lids tightly. Fill a large high-sided saucepan with water. Place a clean tea towel on the bottom and wrap the jars in napkins. Place the jars in the water, stacking them if necessary. It is important to ensure that the water level is at least 4cm over the jars. If necessary, sterilize the jars in batches. Bring the water to the boil and sterilize the jars for 20 minutes. Leave the jars in the pan until the water has cooled. Once the water has cooled, remove the jars and store in a cool, dark place.

TIP If you are intending to make a lot of passata, it is worth buying a passapomodoro, a passata-making machine that peels and deseeds your tomatoes for you, leaving you with a beautiful, deep red pulp.

Find more Italian preserve ideas here

You can find plenty more delicious Italian-inspired recipes here