Jump to content

Making your own pasta sauce


Andy_Why
 Share

Recommended Posts

So, I've decided to start making my own pasta sauces, but I have no idea where to begin. Well, obviously with tomatoes, but I don't know how to use them properly or what I can add, what is good to add, what the best herbs to use are, how to make a thick sauce when tomatoes are so watery etc, etc.

So I'm looking for some practical tips from you guys. Even a recipe for a basic sauce that I could work from would be much appreciated.

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's a simple storecupboard sauce I make pretty often:

- Slice some garlic and fry it very gently in some olive oil. It's not worth using extra virgin for this. You could add a finely chopped small onion too, if you like.

- When the garlic/onion have softened, add a glass of red or white wine.

- Turn the heat up so the wine simmers and reduces by half

- Add tin of whole plum tomatoes, and gently break up the tomatoes slightly with a wooden spoon

- Add a bayleaf, a pinch of oregano, salt, black pepper, squeeze of tomato puree (optional) and maybe a teaspoon of sugar

- Turn the heat down and simmer gently until the tomatoes have become mushy and the liquid as reduced right down. Perhaps half an hour or so. Stir every so often.

- Pour over cooked pasta, give it a good mix and away you go! Add some ripped basil leaves at the end for the final garnish.

Sometimes I add a some chopped chorizo with the onions to get a wonderful paprika flavour, or you could add some dried paprika (this stuff is great) to get a similar effect. You could also add some crushed dried chillis to make it a bit fiery.

You can make a large batch and keep it in the fridge for a few days as a standby. If its thick enough, it can double up as a bruschetta-type topping for toast.

Once you get into the habit of making your own sauces, there's no going back to Dolmio and the like. I had a jar of one of those the other day, and I thought it was foul.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's pretty much how I make mine. It's yummy, yet I still can't stop eating cold pasta saue straight from the jar. :lol:

I laways use tinned tomatos, next time i'm going to use some fresh ones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heat a little bit of olive oil, fry whatever you want in it, onions, pancetta, garlic etc. Blend a tin of plum tomatoes leave them chunky, chuck them in on top and reduce them down. Add some basil and salt and pepper and a dash of balsamic vinegar. If you want to make it rich, add a dash of double cream. You can experiment with all you want with this, add lemon juice or zest, chili flakes, peppers, red wine, etc. Add the pasta to the sauce not the other way around.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually make a pasta sauce just out of grated up courgette, garlic and loads of olive oil all heated slowly to a big mush, but recently I put slices into a tomato based sauce. I added them to the pan after i'd softend some onion and garlic, and tossed it around a bit until both sides coloured then added the tomatos and simmered them down.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually make a pasta sauce just out of grated up courgette, garlic and loads of olive oil all heated slowly to a big mush

That's an excellent sauce, did you first see it on Saturday kitchen? I think it was Peter Gordon who cooked it, the Kiwi guy with curly hair and a scarred face. It had dried chilli and anchovies in it too, but I usually skip the anchovies for the missus.

Re. tomato sauces, a dash of balsamic at an early stage can enrichen the sauce really well, and a pinch of sugar really helps too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always put a load of basil in mine and use chopped tinned tomatoes rather than whole. I'd like to know how to make a decent plain sauce for pizza. My usual tomato sauce reduced a bit more doesn't really work as the onions in the sauce makes the whole thing lay quite thick on the dough. I did grate the onion into the pan once rather than chopping it and this came out better. Is it worth doing this every time or should I just omit the onion altogether?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's an excellent sauce, did you first see it on Saturday kitchen? I think it was Peter Gordon who cooked it, the Kiwi guy with curly hair and a scarred face. It had dried chilli and anchovies in it too, but I usually skip the anchovies for the missus.

Re. tomato sauces, a dash of balsamic at an early stage can enrichen the sauce really well, and a pinch of sugar really helps too.

Oooooooooooh I love anchovies but Gloomy Andy hates them. I'm going to smuggle them in next time. I forgot to mention I add dried chilli too. I meant to put in the post I stole it from one of your posts in here ages ago! :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always put a load of basil in mine and use chopped tinned tomatoes rather than whole. I'd like to know how to make a decent plain sauce for pizza. My usual tomato sauce reduced a bit more doesn't really work as the onions in the sauce makes the whole thing lay quite thick on the dough. I did grate the onion into the pan once rather than chopping it and this came out better. Is it worth doing this every time or should I just omit the onion altogether?

A half tin or so of chopped tomatoes is all you need for the pizza sauce, add this straight from the tin, then add the onion and peppers and garlic etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oooooooooooh I love anchovies but Gloomy Andy hates them. I'm going to smuggle them in next time. I forgot to mention I add dried chilli too. I meant to put in the post I stole it from one of your posts in here ages ago! :lol:

Ah, I see! Well, it's not my recipe anyway.

The anchovies are just a different way of adding salt, they dissolve into nothing. He won't notice them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One I make regularly now summer is here and punnets of cherry tomatoes are cheap in the market:

Roasted cherry tomato sauce with feta

Serves 2

Couple of punnets of cherry tomatoes (500-600g)

Three tablespoons olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red chilli pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt + fresh black pepper

Fresh basil

Feta Cheese to serve

200g pasta

• Mix together all the ingredients except the feta and pasta in a baking dish and bake in a 200°C oven for about 30 minutes.

• When the skins are starting to burst and blacken, give the whole lot a mash with a fork and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes, then remove from oven and stir in some fresh basil

• Use that time to put on your pasta

• When al dente, drain your pasta, stir in the feta and then pour in the sauce

Roasting the tomatoes gives a lovely flavour and it's a bit quicker then other recipes if you're in a hurry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always put a load of basil in mine and use chopped tinned tomatoes rather than whole. I'd like to know how to make a decent plain sauce for pizza. My usual tomato sauce reduced a bit more doesn't really work as the onions in the sauce makes the whole thing lay quite thick on the dough. I did grate the onion into the pan once rather than chopping it and this came out better. Is it worth doing this every time or should I just omit the onion altogether?

Use your usual sauce but get a hand blender to it, so that you can spread it thinly. Or maybe you're not cooking your usual sauce long enough. I leave my pasta sauces bubbling slowly for quite a long time to they come out pretty smooth on their own.

Always use more olive oil than you think legal in a tomato sauce - and none of that 'pinch of sugar' thing, you need a good teaspoonful! :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's an excellent sauce, did you first see it on Saturday kitchen? I think it was Peter Gordon who cooked it, the Kiwi guy with curly hair and a scarred face. It had dried chilli and anchovies in it too, but I usually skip the anchovies for the missus.

Re. tomato sauces, a dash of balsamic at an early stage can enrichen the sauce really well, and a pinch of sugar really helps too.

Ah, yes Balsamic. That was something else I meant to ask about. How early would you say I should add it, or does it really matter?

And thanks again everyone, but keep those recipes and suggestions coming!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can add balsamic at any stage really as long as the sauce has a chance to bubble for a few minutes after you add it, so that the vinegary element evaporates. Best place to add it is after the onions and garlic have softened and are frying gently, as you would do a glass of wine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

General food tip:

If anyone has trouble having wine on hand, as it can be expensive if you're on a low budget - and maybe you don't drink much wine, the two magic ingredients to have are - a bottle of Noilly Prat, to add instead of white wine, and Marsala instead of red (particularly in beef/meat dishes) They keep and both add wonderful qualities to your cooking.

imo, of course.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These all sound great, and I'll be trying them out. However our "emergency" pasta sauce is to just heat a tin of chopped tomatoes with a few mixed herbs thrown in. It feels a bit dirty and low-rent, but passes muster when you simply can't be fucked to do anything else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These all sound great, and I'll be trying them out. However our "emergency" pasta sauce is to just heat a tin of chopped tomatoes with a few mixed herbs thrown in. It feels a bit dirty and low-rent, but passes muster when you simply can't be fucked to do anything else.

It's still better than my patented can-of-Campbell's-soup-with-just-a-splash-of-water-and-a-furiouis-stir sauce.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I usually go for the cooking off the garlic, adding a tin of plum tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, a bit of white wine vinegar and then letting it cook down slowly before chucking in some basil before the end approach.

If I feel like putting in a little more effort, I fry off some finely sliced onions and red pepper with the garlic and follow the above recipe with the addition of some smoked paprika at the same time as the other seasonings and omittting the basil completely.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RE: Freezing wine as ice cubes, it works a treat. They don't freeze completely thanks to the alcohol but they're not exactly liquid and they store nicely like that and melt as soon as you add them to a hot pan.

Cheap wine for cooking, the shit you wouldn't want to drink, I can't really tell the different when it's in a sauce.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to this thread I was inspired to make a lovely pasta sauce last night (onion, garlic, chorizo, red and yellow peppers, a tin of tomatoes and some balsamic vinegar). Bloody lovely! Cheers for the inspiration.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is great guys, thanks. If I wanted to add something like Aubergine or Courgette, at what stage would I be best to do it?

One thing I've been trying recently is cooking chunky veg separately and then adding it to the sauce with the pasta, so that I get browned mushrooms and fried or grilled peppers and courgettes rather than veg that's been sauted on top of the onions and then stewed in tomatoes for an hour. I haven't previously been averse to just sticking the veg in with the onions after a time but it's only one more hob and it makes me happier. Also, I have an unproven suspicion that involving liquid with the onions too early makes them go that hard, chewy way that clogs up your plughole with waterproof efficiency. But someone with a qualification can possibly enlighten me.

Sauce-wise, everything here sounds much like the way I do it, so I think we have a folder consensus. Sometimes my onion base has a chilli, or finely chopped celery, or garlic. My lass has a bay tree in her garden and a couple of leaves off that do make a difference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

All those sound great.

I'd disagree about the 'no point in using fresh tomatoes if they're not home grown' though. Using the flabby, shit English ones that are everywhere sure, but it's not that hard to get decent tomatoes these days. Even if you end up paying a premium it's not like you need that many for a sauce for two people anyway, 6-8 is plenty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a bit like pot luck though. Last year in the Ultimate Fajitas thread I made a salsa using fresh English tomatoes, and they were pale, insipid, and flavourless. However, Waitrose have now got a local produce section and I bought some amazing Kentish tomatoes the other day, which would have made a great pasta sauce. So yeah, if you get good ones, go for it, but it's not a given that fresh will be best.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.