Once you have thrown this together, you will never be able to face one of those ready-made tomato sauces in a jar again.
So here it is, the last tomato sauce recipe that you’ll ever need….
A large saucepan
1 med onion, very finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped, or pressed
2-3 tins of good quality tinned plum tomatoes
A small pinch of dried chili flakes, or 1/2 a chili, deseeded and very finely chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped finely
A teaspoon of dried oregano
1 heaped dessertspoon of sun dried tomato paste.
Half a glass of red wine
Salt and pepper
The trick with tomato sauce is to do it slowly; time is what makes this sauce delicious. I often spend a wet Sunday afternoon making a big pot of this (just double or triple the recipe), and freezing it in portions for quick, mid-week suppers. There is nothing to stop you adding things to it later on – see the notes below. It is also great for visiting Vegetarians, and is delighted to be partnered with things like Halloumi and tofu!
- Heat the oil in the saucepan, and when it is hot, add the onions, celery, dried chilli and oregano. Stir well over a fairly moderate heat. You do not want the onion to colour.
- After about 5 mins the onions will have softened down, so add the garlic, and stir briefly
- add the wine, and allow to bubble and reduce by half
- Throw in the tins of tomatoes, and the sun dried paste, and stir in.
- Allow to come to a simmer, add salt and pepper to taste, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, and half-put a lid on the saucepan.
- This sauce should simmer for at least an hour, by which time, it will have thickened significantly. You really need to taste it at this stage to adjust the seasoning. If it is a little bitter, try adding a small spoonful of sugar.
- This sauce freezes beautifully, so I always double or treble the recipe, and save myself time and effort later on.
- To make a posher version, add about 1/2 a tub of mascarpone just before serving. This makes the sauce creamy and rich. I often use the 1/2 fat Mascarpone, and have noticed no real difference compared with the full-fat one, except perhaps that it is maybe slightly thinner when it melts into the sauce.
- For non-vegetarians, starting the sauce off by frying off some Pancetta or bacon pieces really changes the feel of the sauce, by giving it a lovely smoky flavour.
- To make a spicy, aromatic version of this, start off by frying off a couple of sliced or chopped Chorizo sausages, and maybe add a little more chilli, and/or a level spoonful of smoked paprika. A sauce such as this will benefit from the addition of some crème fraiche or soured cream.