Pasta Sauces

BASIC TOMATO SAUCE

If you want to make a nice tomato sauce to mix with some pasta as a quick dish, this is an easy way to whip one up, using ingredients that you’ll hopefully already have in house:

Ingredients:

  • Chopped tomatoes, use as much as you need for the quantity of sauce you’re making (canned, fresh or a mix of both)
  • Tomato puree (a squeeze or two)
  • 1 Onion (diced)
  • A few garlic gloves (crushed or chopped)
  • A glug of olive oil
  • Dried herbs (mixed herbs/oregano/basil/whatever you have in the cupboard)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A pinch of sugar

Optional (if you have them to hand):

  • A glug of red wine, or if you don’t have any open (don’t open a bottle for this unless you fancy a drink), a dash of wine vinegar/balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh basil (chopped, torn, shredded – whatever you fancy doing to it)

Method

Fry off the garlic and onion in the olive oil until soft and browning. Add the tomato paste, sugar and dried herbs whilst stirring, then add the wine or vinegar (if you don’t have any, a dash of water will work to form a liquid and reduce it for a minute or so to get some flavour going). Then add the chopped tomatoes and let simmer, adding salt & pepper to taste. Add the fresh herbs at the last minute to maintain their flavour, before adding the sauce to your pasta.

Make sure you taste the sauce and add a bit more sugar if it is too sharp. Tomatoes are acidic and the sugar helps balance the flavour, bringing out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes.

JAZZ UP YOUR SAUCE

You can easily enhance this very basic tomato (and basil) sauce in to something a bit more exotic:

Puttanesca – add anchovies, capers and olives (one or all three work nicely, depending on what you have available).

Spicy – add dry chilli flakes or freshly chopped chilli to spice your sauce (fry off with the garlic at the beginning).

Vegetable – roast lots of lovely vegetables (courgette, peppers, mushrooms etc.) and add these to your tomato sauce


TOMATO PESTO

This is a super quick sauce that I use all the time to make linguine and it has never failed to impress whoever eats it:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp Pesto (homemade recipe here)
  • Chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 150ml stock (see method for options)
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Dash of cream

Method

Heat 3 tablespoons of pesto in a pan (I usual do it in a big frying pan) then add the chopped tomato and stir until the tomatoes have cooked and formed a nice sauce with the pesto. Add about 150ml of stock (fish if you’re making a seafood dish, vegetable if it’s veggie, chicken for chicken…you get the jist). Let this simmer for a while and reduce down by about a third, before adding prawns or diced chicken (browned off first), vegetables or whatever you want to serve it with. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a dash of cream and stir together until all cooked. Add a bit more pesto at the end if you think it needs it. I usually serve this with some linguine and it’s delicious.

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