Everything you should know about Passata to unlock its full potential

Plus, chef Joel Bennetts shows how he uses Passata to elevate his spicy gin rigatoni.
Photographer: John Paul Urizar / Stylist: Olivia Blackmore

It goes without saying that the quality of your ingredients can make or break a dish. From locally sourced protein to high-quality sauces, great ingredients can elevate a simple recipe to restaurant-quality status.    

One such ingredient is Passata, a smooth tomato purée made from fresh, in-season tomatoes. It’s often used as a base in a variety of dishes from pasta sauces to soups and stews.  

Sydney-based chef Joel Bennetts (Fish Shop, Burger Park) uses Mutti Passata tomato purée when cooking at home. 

“To create the flavour depth that I’m looking for, I always use Mutti Passata tomato purée. It’s a high-quality product with a sweet, rich flavour,” he tells GT.  

Read on to discover how to use Passata in a way that unlocks its full potential, and continue scrolling for Bennetts’ quick and easy spicy gin rigatoni recipe.  

What to look for when buying Passata 

The best Passata is sold in jars or bottles rather than cans, and should have a short ingredient list including tomatoes, salt and herbs such as basil for added flavour. The less additives the better, as this is a good indication that high-quality ingredients have been used.  

Italian brand Mutti is renowned for its fragrant, fresh-tasting and quality product range, including its Passata which is crafted from 100% Italian tomatoes picked at optimal ripeness and processed within 24 hours to retain their freshness.  

The Passata is lightly concentrated to remove any natural water content, resulting in velvety, smooth purée with a rich tomato flavour — without the need to add sugar during cooking time.

Passata elevates this easy dish of polenta with wild mushroom ragu. (Credit: Mutti)

How to cook like a chef using Passata 

This pantry essential saves time in the kitchen while dialing up flavour. And because Mutti Passata is thicker than traditional canned tomatoes, this versatile Passata also cuts down on simmer time, making it perfect for quick mid-week dishes or slow-cooking for weekend entertaining. 

By adding Passata into your recipes, you can transform everyday meals into impressive chef-quality dishes. Use it to whip up shakshuka, tomato soup and more.  

For a quick pasta, try Bennetts’ spicy gin rigatoni with Passata. “This dish is all about the beautiful, rich tomato sauce. The gin heightens the flavour of the tomatoes and elevates this to something special,” he says.  

See below for the full recipe:

Joel Bennetts’ spicy gin rigatoni 




Heat oil in a wide shallow frying pan over low-medium heat. Add onion, garlic and chilli; cook until soft and translucent (10-12 minutes). 


Meanwhile, cook rigatoni in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente (10-12 minutes). Reserve 200ml pasta water then drain.  


To flambé onion mixture (see note), increase heat to high, add gin, step away from the pan and ignite the sauce with a long barbecue lighter or matches. The flame will burn out as the alcohol cooks. Once the flame has extinguished itself, add Mutti passata and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce reduces by half (10-12 minutes), then stir in Mutti baby roma tomatoes and cream; simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  


Add rigatoni, a splash of the pasta water and parmesan to sauce. Allow the cheese to melt for a few seconds then toss until sauce is emulsified and coats pasta. Add a little more of the pasta water if needed. Serve rigatoni topped with extra parmesan, black pepper, chilli flakes and basil leaves. 

For best results, use freshly grated parmesan. Flambéing the onion mixture with gin creates a deeper flavour in the sauce. 


Related stories