I think that a good tomato sauce is the first thing that every cook should learn. It is incredibly useful! When I first went to University (a very, very long time ago now …!) I couldn’t cook a thing. I would constantly buy those ready made jars of tomato sauce to throw over some penne or spaghetti. Thinking about it now this was a lot more expensive than me simply making my own and I could have probably saved myself a small fortune considering how often I actually ate tomato pasta! I soon came to start making my own sauce and I have never looked back.
A simple tomato sauce is long seen as a compulsory in Italian cooking. If you get that right then you have an abundant of dishes that can be rustled up last minute. It is one of the things that I admire most about Italian cooking. Just like my love for Greek food, Italian food is also about creating simple dishes that use good quality ingredients. A good, basic tomato sauce is certainly the basis for creating that wonderful simple Italian way of eating.
I constantly keep portions of this Big Batch Tomato Sauce in my freezer ready for a quick mid-week dinner. I use tinned tomatoes making this an incredibly cheap dish to make. I keep mine simple by using mainly onions and garlic but I do add a dash of smoked paprika and a little sugar to caramelise the sauce a little. I also use plenty of good quality olive oil and fresh basil plus a tiny bit of dried oregano. Most of these ingredients are store cupboard or what we usually have in the kitchen so it is something that can be quickly and easily rustled up. When it comes to using those leftover portions from the freezer I often use the sauce as it is and serve with some pasta and a little grating of parmesan. Other times I add some anchovies and black olives to create a delicious Puttanesca or I rustle up some meatballs to go with the sauce. You can even use a portion to make a delicious Shakshuka brunch. This is a classic, staple recipe that is cheap, easy and so versatile!
- 4 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- Good quality olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 leek (finely sliced)
- Small bunch fresh basil (finely chopped)
- 1 small onion (peeled and finely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dried smoked paprika
- Salt/ pepper
- Add a good glug of olive oil (about 2 tbps) in a large, deep saucepan. Then add the onions, leek and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook on a medium heat until the onions are soft and golden. This will take around 7 mins.
- Add the sugar to the onions and cook for just another 1-2 mins. Then add the tomato puree, another tbsp of olive oil, smoked paprika and oregano. Pour in the lemon juice and stir until all ingredients are combined. Then pour in the tinned tomatoes and stir again so that everything is properly combined. Bring everything to a boil then bring back down to a gentle simmer and leave for around 20 mins, stirring regularly.
- Take the pan off the heat and season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir in the fresh basil.
- For any that is being frozen, leave to cool completely before placing in freezer bags and putting in the freezer. It will keep in the freezer for a good 3 months.