Shhh! My secret recipe.

This month I thought I’d share the most versatile recipe I know. I use it for all sorts of things in my cooking. It’s a basic tomato sauce, but simply by changing the herbs and accompanying vegetables and protein, you can create any number of dishes that your family will simply love.

First, it’s important that you don’t use a solely metal saucepan that doesn’t have a non stick coating. Tomato reacts with metal when heated and sauces can take on a metallic tang that ruins your dishes. Make sure you use a saucepan or frying pan that has a non stick coating on. In the photo I’m using a non stick frying pan. Dice an onion and fry in the pan with any vegetable you want. I am making a meatball and spaghetti dish, so I decided to add diced pepper to give some colour and texture to the dish. I then added the meatballs and turned them often, browning them all over. This seals the meat and keeps moisture in; no one likes dry meatballs!

Once the onions are translucent, add some red wine. I add about 50mls, but if you like wine you can add more. Let it simmer away for a few minutes. This will add flavour to your sauce. The alcohol will cook away. 

Next add a carton of pasatta. Pasatta is just sieved tomatoes, but the process makes the sauce much creamier than if you use a can of chopped or plum tomatoes. Add half a tea spoon of sugar. This balances out the sharpness of the tomatoes and brings out their natural sweetness. I then add two minced garlic cloves and a tea spoon of basil.

You now have a basic Italian tomato sauce. I let the sauce simmer now, stirring occasionally so that the meatballs are cooked through. The sauce thickens as the moisture evaporates and turns a darker red, making a creamy rich dark red sauce. This takes about 20 minutes, but make sure you check the meatballs are cooked through. 

The same sauce can be easily transformed into loads of other dishes. Swapping out the meatballs and replacing with red lentils and a bit of vegetable stock makes a gorgeous vegetarian Bolognese. Alternatively, the same recipe can form the tomato sauce in a lasagna, or you can swap the herbs for paprika to make a Spanish sausage pasta bake. I love it! I must use it in different forms at least twice a week. 

So,  I hope you make good use of my most favourite and most versatile recipe. Enjoy!