When it comes to savory recipes that require a nice sweet base, you can’t do much better than a good tomato passata.
Whether you’re looking for a nice tomato base for your pizza or the perfect sauce to build out from for your pasta dish, this tomato-based ingredient is essential for many kitchens, not just in Italy, but across the world!
This makes it all the more frustrating and nail-biting when you have a recipe prepared, only to find that it asks for passata that you don’t have in your cupboard or fridge!
So, what exactly can you do in these situations, when such an important ingredient is missing?
Well, if you’re willing to be a little more creative, and have the right ingredients left in your pantry, you can get a pretty good result with one of these substitutes that we have included in this guide!
What Is Tomato Passata?
So, for you to know what key features you’ll be looking for in a passata replacement, you’ll need to know a little more about passata, and the tomatoes that go into it!
Tomato passata is a kind of tomato purée that is made from fresh tomatoes, in a similar way to how tomato paste or sauce is made. However, unlike those two bases, tomato passata is made from uncooked tomatoes.
The potatoes are mashed, then strained to remove the skin and seeds from it, and that’s pretty much all that it takes to make a good passata.
As you can imagine from a tomato purée, the flavor of passata on its own is like an incredibly strong tomato, with a lot of sweetness and bitterness in the purée, and an umami flavor that makes it ideal for adding to other recipes, whether it’s pizzas, dips, or anything else!
Passata is used in pretty much every recipe that might otherwise call for tomatoes, so a substitute not only has to match the overall flavor, but its versatility too!
1. Canned Tomatoes
So, what kind of substitute for tomato passata is best to start with? Well, why not the simplest?
Canned tomatoes are exactly what it sounds like, with them being just diced tomatoes that have been lightly cooked and preserved in a can.
These are arguably the best substitute that you can use in place of passata.
Not only are they made from the same base ingredient, but they also have a similar consistency to them (albeit with a slightly higher water content), as well as the same sweet and slightly bitter flavor to them.
And, perhaps crucially, they are also just as versatile as passata, being usable in pretty much any recipe that would call for passata.
Plus, canned tomatoes have another great feature that we hadn’t even touched on before when we explained passata: Longevity.
A properly sealed, airtight can of diced and/or peeled tomatoes can last much longer than almost any of the other options that we’ve talked about in this list, meaning that you can buy a can or two now, and not need to worry about it.
The only notable difference is their preparation method, with canned tomatoes being lightly cooked first.
2. Pasta/Marinara Sauce
Next to canned tomatoes, you’ll find that pasta or marinara sauce is one of the most reliable substitutes that you’ll be able to use in place of passata.
The extra ingredients that are used in marinara sauce, such as the onions or basil that man sauces have, might make this a dealbreaker for some people.
However, The consistency of the marinara sauce is perfect for being used in the same recipes and dishes that passata is traditionally used in.
You can pretty much use the marinara sauce in a 1:1 ratio, making it incredibly simple to account for in those recipes.
Plus, this is still a largely tomato-based substitute, meaning that it has that same sweet flavor to it that passata has. Only here, it’s also including extra ingredients. Many of which you would typically also use alongside passata in the recipe, effectively taking a little extra work out of the cooking process for you.
3. Tomato Purée
We’ve been calling tomato passata a purée a few times in this guide so far. However, it is a distinct ingredient from actual tomato purée, a kind of highly concentrated tomato paste.
So, how does purée fare as a substitute for passata?
Well, in many ways, quite well! At least, if you know how to use it.
In the state you’ll usually buy it in, tomato purée has a very sweet and tart flavor to it, more so than many other tomato-based ingredients in this guide.
The texture of tomato purée is also incredibly smooth, but doesn’t have the same consistency as passata does.
However, that same tomato flavor is still there and is just as strong as you will find in the passata, so it’s still a perfectly reasonable ingredient to use in place of it, especially in sauces and stews, where this strong base is watered down into a sauce.
4. Tomato Paste
Contrary to what some people reading this might b thinking, tomato paste and purée are not the same ingredient.
While purée is cooked lightly and then boiled down to an ideal consistency, tomato paste is cooked for a much longer period.
The result is a flavor that brings out the more tart flavors of tomatoes, meaning that the flavor is pretty much on-point if you’re looking to add paste as a base instead of passata.
The only issue that you might find is that the consistency is pretty thicker, much more than passata.
You’ll need to water it down a little if you want to get the right consistency in a stew, pizza, or any other recipe that you might have planned.
However, if you do that, you will have a perfect substitute that most will not be able to tell the difference from normal passata!
This is one for the kids, the folks with a sweet tooth, and for people who don’t have many of the other substitutes that we have covered here.
In terms of consistency, ketchup has an almost identical smoothness to it, so it’s not unreasonable why some people might want to add it.
Ketchup has a tomato flavor to it (hence why it is also called tomato ketchup), but it is significantly sweeter, on account of the extra sugar or other sweeteners added to most ketchup recipes.
Consequently, this also means that any recipe you add this substitute to will also be significantly sweeter than you may be looking to make it.
After all, for many of these dishes, like pizza or pasta, tomatoes are the sweetening ingredient. They don’t need anymore sweetening!
Now, we wouldn’t exactly recommend this highly on a scale of the substitutes that we’re covering.
However, if you have nothing else in the pantry to turn to, ketchup can be relied on to give you at least a little of the flavors that you’ll be looking for in passata. If only a little!
6. Fresh Tomatoes
Of course, when talking about tomato-based substitutes, we haven’t mentioned tomatoes themselves as a viable alternative. So, how do they fare?
Well, a raw tomato might have the same sweet flavor as good-old passata, but it has a completely different texture and consistency. It’s a solid fruit, for crying out loud!
However, if you have fresh tomatoes, then you can make tomato passata from them, as fresh as you’d like. All you need to do is blend the tomato, sieve out the skin and seeds, and you have yourself the real deal!
So, there you have it!
From purées to pastes, from diced tomatoes and ketchup, there are a ton of tomato-based substitutes that you can use instead of passata, many of which are just as likely to find and get, either straight from your pantry, or your nearest store.
6 Tomato Passata SubstitutesCourse: Substitutes
- Decide on what substitute you need
- Pick a substitute from the list above
- Read what you need to substitute with
- Create the recipe and enjoy
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