Super Simple Tomato Sauce for Pasta


I love, love, love tomato sauce and I don’t mean ketchup of course. I’m talking about that rich, tangy tomatoey goodness you splash all over your spaghetti. I mean, my mouth is watering just writing this because I love it THAT much.

I do have a special slow cook recipe for ragu that I use when I have loads of time on my hands and want something really special. However, most of the time when I get hungry I need food and I need it fast.

When there’s very little left in the house, the one thing I know I can always turn to is a simple red sauce with whatever pasta I have hanging around at the time. This recipe calls for nothing but ‘cupboard staples’ and by that, I mean things you probably just have lying around because you can buy them once and leave them in the back of your cupboard forever.

I’m not going to lie and say I never buy jar sauces, because I do and they are great to just have in an emergency, but I do find it a little crazy when people buy plain, tomato based sauces from the supermarket.

Most of those sauces contain very few (inexpensive) ingredients but will often cost you a fortune. Alongside this, they’re normally packed full of salt and preservatives making them less than healthy.

This recipe for red sauce isn’t the most fancy and it certainly doesn’t use the world’s finest ingredients. It is, however, pretty tasty and the perfect quick and easy recipe for when you’re short on time and money. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered buying those supermarket ones.


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Ingredients (for two people)

  • 1/2 a small white onion, diced very finely.
  • 2-3 tbsp of good olive oil.
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced finely.
  • 2 tbsp of tomato puree.
  • 400ml of pasata (or tinned plum tomatoes).
  • 1 tsp of mixed herbs.
  • 1 tsp of rock or sea salt.
  • 1-2 tsp of sugar
  • A pinch of black pepper.
  • A handful of small cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (optional).

To start, add your finely diced onion and oil to a non-stick saucepan and fry gently on a medium heat for 5 minutes or so, until the onions have started to soften. Add your garlic and continue to cook slowly for another couple of minutes, making sure nothing browns.

Next, add the tomato puree and cook this out for a minute before adding the pasata and dried herbs to the mix. Once everything is combined and has started to bubble away, add your salt, sugar and black pepper.

Let this simmer for around 10 minutes, then have a little taste test and add more salt or sugar if the sauce needs it. Depending on how hot your hob is, you may also want to add a little water to the pan to loosen the sauce at this point.

Tip: I find that using tin tomatoes or pasata can sometimes leave your sauce with quite an acidic taste, so it’s always best to balance this with a good pinch of sugar. If you’re worried about making your sauce too sweet, simply add extra sugar in a little sprinkle at a time until you have the perfect balance.

Once you’ve found the right balance, continue cooking your sauce for another 10-15 minutes to develop the flavours. About 5 minutes before you’re ready to serve, add the fresh tomatoes (if using) and let these cook into the sauce, until they just start to give under the pressure of your spoon. You can skin the tomatoes before adding them if you like but if I’m in a hurry I don’t normally bother and they come out just fine!

Once everything is bubbly and delicious, add your favourite pasta straight to the sauce and finish with a heavy serving of fresh parmesan.

Voila! A quick, simple and delicious tomato sauce that’ll knock your socks off.

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