Most people love a good, hearty pasta dish, either as a side or a main course. However, I have found that the jars of pasta sauce you can buy in the supermarkets are both overpriced and badly flavoured. They are either too sweet or undercooked, and therefore make the tomato base taste bitter and acrid. For this reason I never really enjoyed tomato based pasta sauce, but one day I decided to try and make my own. This is the result of that first attempt, plus a lot of refinement over the years. The best thing about this dish is that it is truly versatile, you can add whatever you want into it and make it perfect for you and your family. If you can't think of anything to add to it don't worry, I will put in some suggestions along the way.
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 600ml jar of passata or chopped tomatoes
- 2 anchovies
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 400g dried pasta (spaghetti, penne, concliglie, the choice is yours)
- Salt, to taste
- Lemon juice, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Half glass of red wine (or red wine vinegar)
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Cherry tomatoes
- Basil leaves
Note - The optionals you include are completely dependant on your own personal tastes. I wouldn't suggest you add in all of the optionals, and if there is something not on this list that you would like in there please feel free to add it. If it works, let me know and I can try it for myself! The only optional that I would strongly suggest adding is the red wine, it adds a beautiful colour and depth of flavour to the dish.
- Set your stove to a medium heat and add your olive oil to a heavy bottomed, fairly deep pan. I use the Pyrex Slow Cooker Casserole Pan, it is perfect for all manner of cooking due to it's brilliant heat distribution.
- Finely dice your onion, garlic, and anchovies (if using, slice chillies here as well) and add to the pan. If you are really struggling for time, substitute the onion for red onion, it cooks much quicker.
- Whilst the onion, garlic and anchovies are frying, prepare any optional ingredients and add to the pan when the onions have softened and turned translucent.
- Whilst your optional ingredients are cooking, have some water boiling in a kettle or pan. If using wine, cook down until the base has thickened and darkened.
- Pour in the jar of passata, increase heat slightly to bring to the boil.
- Add pasta and salt to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions (usually 12 minutes boiling)
- Once the pasta sauce is boiling, add the oregano, reduce heat to a low-medium heat and stir regularly throughout the rest of the cooking process.
- After about 8 minutes, when the oil in the pasta sauce starts rising to the top, taste the pasta sauce. Add in some salt, black pepper, and lemon juice to your taste preferences.
- Drain pasta (save some of the water the pasta was cooked in) and stir through the pasta sauce, loosening with your saved water if necessary.
- Serve with parmesan cheese and/or basil leaves if you so desire.
A few notes:
- If you feel your sauce is becoming too thick at any point, take a spoonful of water from your pasta pan and add it to your sauce.
- If you add salt and your sauce becomes too salty, add an extra squeeze of lemon juice
- If you add lemon juice and your sauce becomes too citric, add an extra pinch of salt
- If you don't like anchovies, don't worry, they dissolve into the sauce and you don't taste them. They are a form of seasoning in this dish.
There you go, cooking doesn't have to be stressful and time consuming. From start to finish this meal takes a maximum of 20 minutes, and even less if you use red onions instead of white onions. Not only is it quick, easy, customisable, and fun, it is also much cheaper than buying a few jars of the leading brand of pasta sauces. Making your own sauces, curries, pickles etc is a great way to reduce your weekly shopping bill and have a little extra cash every month.