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Tomato sauce is an absolute necessity in my home. A good tomato sauce has countless uses and one of the first things that any cook should learn to make – it is almost infinitely useful, keeps pretty well, and the ready-made version is outrageously overpriced. Make a big batch, then use in other dishes throughout the week.
In future recipes, I’ll simply refer to this as ‘Universal Tomato Sauce’, and I’ll link back to here; so don’t worry about having to print this out, unless you feel compelled to do so. This sauce is so easy, and you can sling it together in around the time it takes to open a shop-bought jar and heat it up.
1 can of plum tomatoes (whole or chopped)
1 peeled clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
1 teaspoon of dried Oregano (fresh is better, but you’ll need more, in that case)
1 teaspoon of Lea & Perrins Worcester Sauce
1 teaspoon of tomato Puree
1 teaspoon of lemon Juice
1 teaspoon of soft brown sugar (failing that, use any sugar)
**Please note: there is no salt being added, here (or pepper, for that matter). As this sauce is going to be used, in a variety of ways, I think it is important to add seasoning, based on requirements, which can alter enormously, depending on the added ingredients. In short, salt it when you come to use and taste the dishes.
The last thing, you’ll add to the blender, is the can of tomatoes. The reason being that you want all the other ingredients to be well chopped, and it’s better they’re kept near the blade, initially; so put them in first.
A hand blender (as I write, this one’s a bargain!) is the most insanely useful gadget in the kitchen, particularly if it has chopping bowls and whisk attachments; and you’ll need at least a 500ml chopping bowl, for this sauce.
As for the detailed and complex instructions… put all the ingredients in the blender – can of tomatoes last – and blend for 30 seconds or so. It may be worth tilting and rocking the blender, and giving it a few further blasts, just to ensure it is all thoroughly pulped but, apart from that, you now have a perfect tomato sauce, for a multitude of dishes, which will be described in the coming weeks.
If used as a simple sauce, I’d recommend reducing it, before it’s added to pasta, for example. It’ll look quite thick, but you really want to avoid getting any pale watery run-off, from your sauce; and this is best done by evaporating off this excess liquid, by heating quite vigorously, whilst stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, or thereabouts. You should be able to tell, by tipping the pan and seeing no water separating out. You can make doubly certain, by continuing to heat for a minute or so, once you’ve drained the pasta, and added the sauce to the pasta pan.
Always have these ingredients to hand. There’s nothing easier than knocking this up, from scratch, but it is so useful – using a bit here, a bit there - that I always tend to have at least half a batch, sitting in a sealed container, in the fridge.
I’ll be posting some specific recipes for its use, and a few general ideas for pasta dishes, in the next few weeks; but you can really experiment, with various bits and pieces, and I’d be overjoyed to hear all the ways you all find to use it.
At its simplest, just add it to some cooked farfalle, with salt and pepper, for an excellent, plain and simple meal – add some cooked, chopped pancetta/bacon and sliced mushrooms, for a little more interest.