Sometimes, the only thing you want is something simple. You want to invest the least amount of work possible while maximizing the results. Well, here is such a dish: Passata.
The Italian term simply refers to mashing ingredient through a strainer of some sort - basically to pass through, if you will. While this recipe if for the sauce only, it’s certainly easy enough to make some pasta on the side and turn this recipe into a meal.
And that is what we’ll do here. Once your ingredients are nice and soft, we are going to mash them into a puree to dispose of tough and otherwise undesirable parts. Getting to that point requires a minimum amount of work - you basically have to slice some tomatoes, season them, bake ‘em, and mash ‘em. Even though this sauce is very simple, roughly 15 minutes into making it, your kitchen will start drawing your family in while your neighbors will start to seriously contemplate if it’s alright to invite themselves for dinner. Alright, so the dish is not super beige, but if you douse some pasta with this sauce, it’s close enough to being mostly beige. I’ve not yet had a kid - even picky eaters - walk past my kitchen while this dish is being prepped and not comment how wonderful it all smells… Go for it! You won’t regret it!
½ cup olive oil
3 - 4 pounds ripe Roma tomatoes (or other small tomatoes of good quality)
4 large gloves of garlic
1 Tbs Thyme
1 Tbs Marjoram
1 tsp coarse sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Let’s get started:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice the tomatoes in half through the core.
Place all tomato halves the the cut side up onto a baking sheet.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with the thyme, marjoram, a pinch of pepper, and sea salt.
Either mince the garlic or use a garlic press to mash them. Sprinkle the garlic all over the tomatoes.
Pour the olive oil over the tomatoes.
Place the baking sheet in your oven.
Let bake undisturbed for 1 hour.
As soon as the tomatoes are fragrant and have started to show signs of slight burning, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool down for 30 minutes.
Once the tomatoes have cooled, place them in a strainer and use a wooden spoon to press them through until only skin and seeds are left. Alternatively, put the tomatoes into a food mill and expel the skins and seeds that way. Do NOT use a blender - doing so will leave cut-up skin (which is rather tough) and seeds (which are bitter) in your passata - which you should definitely not want!
Taste for salt and pepper and make the desired adjustments.
For the most simple dish, make your favorite pasta, pour the passata on the pasta, round it off with some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve a simple green salad with a vinaigrette and slightly toasted rustic bread to complete the meal.