After making a load of Tomato Chutney, I still had quite a lot of tomatoes left over. Hmmm…what to do…??
A simple tomato-based sauce can be incredibly versatile and can always come to your rescue on those days where the question of what to make for dinner makes you want to scream! Just boil some pasta, open up a jar of this baby and voila, dinner. Or if you are feeling more creative/have more time, use it to make a lasagne or melanzane parmigiana or as a base for a homemade pizza. Add ground beef and you have a bolognaise sauce. Add some chilli if you want to spice things up a bit. You get the idea. This sauce is the culinary equivalent of a knight in shining armour!
It is also a sneaky and fairly healthy way of getting veggies into the kids; just take a look at that ingredient list! And you can always add any other veggies you have in the fridge/garden that need to be used up.
There are thousands of tomato sauce recipes out there. Where to start? Where else: the veritable bible of U.S. home cooking: The Joy of Cooking. I think just about every married woman has received a copy of this book since the first edition was published back in the 1930s . My mother has a copy (by now battered, beaten, stained and well-thumbed) that has stood in her kitchen as long as I can remember. The simple red, white and blue cover evokes so many childhood memories. Whenever we wanted to bake something, this was our guide to all sorts of yummy delights.
About a decade ago they finally issued a metric version (the original being in U.S. measurements) and I immediately snapped up a copy! It is the book I turn to time and time again and it never lets me down. By now my copy looks almost as battered as my mother’s, which is just as it should be. I highly recommend you get a copy if you don’t have this amazing book already!
This recipe is called Italian Tomato Sauce (Basic Recipe) and makes enough for 500g of pasta. As I wanted to make more, I simply increased the amounts proportionally.
Ingredients: (enough for 500g of pasta)
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 10g finely chopped parsley
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 10g fresh basil leaves, chopped or 1 sprig each fresh rosemary, sage and thyme
- 1.2kg ripe tomatoes, peeled (if desired, I did not), de-seeded and coarsley chopped (or one 800g tin and one 400g tin whole tomatoes, with juice, chopped)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional; I actually used about half the tube…)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the parsley, onion, celery and carrot. Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden brown (about 5 minutes).
2. Add the garlic and the herbs and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds.
3. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and season with the salt and pepper. Simmer uncovered until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove the herb sprigs if used. If you want a finer sauce, whizz up the mixture in a blender.
The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or 3 months in the freezer. I poured my sauce into sterilized jam jars and hope that it keeps in the pantry for a while…If not, I will let you know!