Have you noticed it's all the rage to 'know what you're eating' these days. But I think someone should hold classes in how to read food labels! I can't interpret them!
However, one thing I do know is that commercial pasta sauces are SO high in sugar and salt, it’s ridiculous. Some can contain 6 tsps of salt for such a tiny jar, ick! And what's with all the sugar?? I do know that some Italians (not me) do put a small spoon of sugar in their sauce, but I think it just depends on the tomatoes they've used.
We Italians, normally call tomato based pasta sauces ‘red sauce’ and every Nonna has a signature recipe that they do all the time.
I'm not a Nonna, not even quite a Mamma yet, but here’s a super basic ‘red’ sauce and you can change it into a bagillion different sauces. As you can see from the pic, I normally double or triple it and freeze it in small snack sized bags which serves around 2 people.
Basic red sauce – ‘Napoli’ style
1 onion, diced finely (brown or red)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x cans tomatoes or jar of Passata (Always buy Product of Italy, they just taste better and they should be whole not diced, as the diced are more watery. I blend the canned tomatoes as we don’t like chunks)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
Small sprinkle of chilli flakes
Fresh parsley and basil
- Heat a heavy based pot and add a good glug of oil and a small knob of butter – it’s a flavor thing.
- Gently cook the onion for a few minutes to soften, but not brown. Then add garlic and cook for about a minute.
- Add the tomatoes and stir in the bay leaf, oregano, about a tsp of salt and a good crack of pepper – a tiny sprinkle of chilli flakes really livens the sauce without making it spicy.
- Bring to boil and check your seasoning, you may need a little more salt.
- Simmer lid off for around 20 minutes, the sauce should reduce and thicken up a little.
- Add fresh chopped herbs to finish off.
My husband loves Chicken Parmigiana which is just a cooked chicken schnitzel, topped with a little sauce, a sprinkle of cheese and melted under a hot grill. Kids love this too and it's a great way to hide vegies if you have fussy eaters. I add a grated carrot and finely chopped celery in with the onion, or you could pan fry separately and add the sauce to combine.
Add minced meat (pork and veal combo is traditional) after you’ve cooked the onion and garlic. I also like to add mushrooms or peas (at the end) just to be different, and a little water if it’s too thick. A beef stock cube is a good idea too for a really robust sauce.
This is too easy!
- Make the sauce.
- Buy some quality Italian sausages.
- Pinch the sausage about an inch from the end between two fingers and drag along the skin to create little “meatballs”. Drop straight into a hot frying pan, fry off, then add some sauce. YUM!