Passata refers to a pureed tomato sauce made from strained or seived tomatoes. It is a thick, but pouring consistency. Think silky smoothie texture or pasta sauce thickness. It is usually made from uncooked tomatoes.
The name passata is Italian.
If you live in the UK, Europe, Canada or Australia then passata is straight forward. You can go into a supermarket and easily find it in a jar, bottle or carton. Hallelujah!
On the other hand, if you live in the USA then passata is called something different. (please see below for clarity)
If you have lots of ripe tomatoes and enough time, you can also make your own passata. Traditionally it requires vine ripened tomatoes.
Additionally, some brands add salt to their passata, or even basil, but normally they are made from 100% ripe tomatoes.
What is passata called in the USA?
In the USA, passata often comes with different names.
In many recipes you might see passata listed and then feel confused about what it actually is. Let’s clear that up!
In the USA passata is more commonly called any of the following names:
- strained tomatoes
- seived tomatoes
- tomato puree (see note below not to be confused with tomato puree in other countries such as the UK)
- tomato sauce (less common name)
This means if you get one of the above products, you should actually have passata (or something very close to it) to use in your cooking.
Tomato paste in the USA is called tomato puree in the UK
Now that you know the different names for passata in the USA, let’s quickly discus another similar (but different) ingredient that might cause confusion. Tomato paste. Here is an important clarification.
Tomato paste (USA) is exactly the same as Tomato puree (UK) – a thick concetrated paste that comes in a squeezable tube or tin.
It is often made with the same tomatoes that you find in passata. The main difference, however, is that tomato paste is evapourated much more, which creates a thicker concentrated paste. Tomato paste is not the same as passata.
In the UK we don’t have anything called tomato paste. We call it tomato puree!
Here is a photo of tomato paste (USA)/tomato puree(UK) that I squeezed from its tube earlier…
In the UK tomato puree is very thick and tends to come in a squeezable tube. As one of my readers points out…
And this is where it gets even more confusing…
Tomato puree in the USA is NOT the same product as tomato puree in other countries like the UK. In the USA tomato puree is has a thick sauce consistency and is actually passata. What!?!!!
Hopefully you are still with me 😉
Is tomato paste USA same as tomato puree in the UK?
Tomato puree in the USA is the same as passata
Tomato puree in the USA is actually passata. So if you are looking for it in the USA, and find a bottle of tomato puree then you are in luck.
One of my lovely recipe readers on FB said this…
Strained or seived tomatoes
In the USA passata is frequently is known as strained or seived tomatoes. It’s the same thing, just a different name.
One of my lovely USA readers said this…
However, if you call passata strained or seived tomatoes elsewhere it might cause confusion. Alex, one of my readers in the UK said this…
What is passata used for?
It makes an excellent sauce base. In Italy passata is often used directly on pizza. Not only that, but it also makes a fabulous tomato pasta sauce.
Furthermore, it works particularly well for a tomato based soup, curry or dal. I even use it to bring a little je ne sais quois to my farinata slices.
Passata is very convenient and quick to use, brightening up any recipe with it’s deep red tomato colour.
Which passata should I buy?
If possible, buy a passata (seived tomatoes, strained tomatoes or tomato puree in the USA) which lists tomato as the only ingredient. 100% tomato with nothing else added is a sign of quality.
Where possible I will always buy organic. Where that is not possible I’ll try any available, and find that even the inexpensive ones seem to work well.
Can I use passata instead of chopped canned tomatoes
Yes you can use passata instead of canned tomatoes. Passata is, however, thicker and less watery, so bear that in mind. If you are swapping in a soup, curry, stew they will directly replace with zero fuss.
I hope that helps! Please feel free to share your experiences or thoughts in the comments below. And finally please let me leave you with some of my favourite recipes using passata…
Recipes with passata
Vegan mushroom & sweet potato bolognese…
Easy red lentil and passata dhal…
Lentil cottage pie with passata…
Sweet potato & chickpea curry…
Easy vegan kidney bean chili…
Vegan lasagne recipe…
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