Use your slow cooker to make your own tomato puree (passata) or in other words, a great base for pasta sauce.
As a blogger I am always (or try to be) conscious of the ingredients I am using and what I call them. There are a few things out there that are seriously confusing when it comes to various products. From the size and variety of certain vegetables (1 medium zucchini or courgette can mean very different things in England, Greece and the US) to the names of store bought things such as tomato products. These are especially confusing. For example tomato puree in the US is (from what I can understand) passata. In the UK however, puree is the thick paste that comes in a tube or small tin. So imagine reading a recipe and seeing “one 8oz can of tomato puree”. You’d think there was something a bit wrong with the recipe. And if you’re a beginner cook… well, you’d be making a veeeery tomatoey dish.
For some ingredients, it is quite impossible to describe them with terms that the whole world will understand, but if you are a blogger, please keep in mind that your readers might well be from other countries. “One fun size pack of Twix candy” means nothing to me. Check the bag and note the weight. That I can work with! If you are a reader, take into consideration the origin of the blog you are reading and if you see something that doesn’t quite feel right, do some research or ask in a comment before starting.
I’m not quite sure how we got from passata to Twix, but let’s move back to the topic. I’ve tried several times in the past to make tomato pasta sauce (marinara in the US) with fresh tomatoes in the slow cooker. It’s lovely, but it’s usually watery and needs a lot of time to reduce. This time I thought I’d try something else. I cooked the tomatoes whole. It’s kind of magical the way the tomatoes stew in the crock and release just their water while staying intact. At the end you get a clear liquid at the bottom of the stoneware which you can just discard. A quick blast with a stick blender and you have a lovely thick tomato passata. I don’t use herbs or anything as the flavour doesn’t permeate the tomatoes, but these can be added when you want to turn your passata into sauce.
After you have blended the tomatoes there are two options. Either leave the passata in the slow cooker and cook for a bit longer with some herbs, seasonings etc to make sauce (I imagine 20-30 minutes on high would do the trick), or let it cool, split into portions and freeze it for another time. When you want a quick sauce for your pasta, warm a portion through, add your flavourings, let it bubble for a short while and hey presto!