Thursday, 3 November 2011

Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce

This is one of the most useful recipes ever – a multi-purpose tomato and basil pasta sauce which can be made in bulk and frozen in handy-size portions to bring out whenever you need it. It's so simple that I dithered for ages about putting it on here; well, let's be honest, pasta sauce isn't terribly exciting, is it?

I first started making this years ago when I was still at work and always looking for shortcuts. These days I have a lot more time on my hands, but I still make a batch for the freezer every couple of months; it’s brilliant for roast veg pasta bakes, garlicky mushrooms with spaghetti, spag bol with soya mince, gnocchi and aubergine bake, pizzas…the list is almost endless.

Just because it’s made in bulk it doesn’t mean that every pasta meal you use it for will taste the same. To each defrosted portion, along with your chosen veg, add some different herbs or maybe a splash of balsamic, perhaps a few olives and capers, some chilli flakes…or whatever takes your fancy at the time.

2 onions, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp of oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes
8 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
50ml red wine
3 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
250ml stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes; add the crushed garlic and fry for a further minute. Add all the other ingredients, except the basil, stir well and bring to the boil; turn the heat right down and simmer without a lid for about an hour, by which time the sauce will be thickened and concentrated. (I feel I should warn you, the contents of the pan will plop and bubble like ‘Old Faithful’ in Yellowstone Park; it’ll make an awful mess of your cooker and splashback!)

Take off the heat and add the chopped basil; if you like a smooth sauce you can blitz it but I prefer to leave it chunky. Allow to cool then divide into your chosen portions and freeze.

Depending on what I use it for I find this makes enough for four to six meals for the two of us.

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