Italian Food and Flavours

Roasted tomato ketchup: Salsa di pomodoro arrosto

  • Roasted tomato ketchup

Roasted tomato ketchup: Salsa di pomodoro arrosto

Le Marche is an important agricultural region. It is an important supplier of produce to the rest of Italy as well as increasingly for export. There are a number of reasons for this. Le Marche has a very rich clay soil. the region from the mountains to the sea was originally the sea floor of a deep ocean that has been pushed up by the sliding of tectonic plates. The Appennini mountain range form the boundary of this plate. the rich sedimentary deposits provide a clay soi high in nutrients (though difficult to work when waterlogged).  The climate is also an important factor. With warm summers and an above average rainfall for central Italy the harvests are normally good. Though quite hilly the landscape is cut with valleys running parallel from the mountains to the adriatic. All of these valleys provide fertile, flat, well drained and sheltered land. As well as providing high quality farmland they also offer the ideal landscape for market gardens. Great swathes of the valleys of Le Marche are covered with poly tunnels. 

While much of the produce in Le Marche, as elsewhere in Italy is very much seasonal, these hot houses mean that many vegetables particularly are produced much earlier than would otherwise be possible. The season is also extended which is why in the markets you can still find late summer produce.

One of the most – if not the most – important fruits of the Italian kitchen is of course the tomato. While many varieties are produced the king is surely the plum. One of the reasons the tomato is so popular is its versatility and in this recipe flavours and sweetness are heightened to the maximum. Passata is of course the most widely made tomato sauce in Italy, and home made passata is indeed a world away from the commercial produced version. the first part of this recipe makes a good passata but when a thicker, richer spicy sauce is called for this roast tomato ketchup fits the bill perfectly.

Roasted tomato ketchup: Salsa di pomodoro arrosto

Ingredients for half a litre:

ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half longways 2kg

finely chopped shallots 200g  

finely chopped garlic 3

chopped fresh herbs – rosemary, thyme, oregano

salt, pepper

white sugar tsp

olive oil 50ml

cider vinegar 100ml 

brown sugar 100gm 

juice of 2 lemons 

salt tsp

mustard powder tsp

ground ginger tsp

cloves 2

10 black pepper corns


heat the oven to 180C and lace all the tomatoes cut side up on a tray. Sprinkle on the shallots, garlic, herbs, white sugar, drizzle the olive oil over and season with salt and pepper. Roast for an hour or so until soft and falling apart, then pass the mixture through a sieve into a saucepan.

Grind the pepper and cloves and add together with the other spices and vinegar and lemon juice to the passata. simmer and add the sugar stirring well. cook at a simmer for half an hour or so. you are looking for a thick pouring consistency – bit like ketchup!. Pour into sterilised glass jars with airtight seals. store in a dark cool place for up to three months, if you can keep it that long. Obviously you should keep opened jars in the fridge.