Why buy expensive tins of tomato sauce which can almost double the cost of a meal, when you can make your own sauce with ease and economy?
If you check the contents of a tin of tomato sauce you will see that the main ingredients are already in your cupboard or refrigerator, namely: tomatoes, onions and herbs. There are a variety of extras that you can add but if you have these you are off to a good start and the rest is up to you and your preferences. The amounts given are for two people.
• The first step is to skin the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water. After ten minutes you can rub the skins off quickly. Two ripe medium ones are sufficient.
• Finely slice a medium sized onion and fry it lightly in butter. A little oil in the butter will prevent it burning. Chop the skinned tomatoes and add them to the onions. If you like garlic then squeeze a clove and add it to the mix.
• Thyme, majoram, basil or oregano work well with the sauce, use two herbs, according to what you have although thyme and basil are the most popular. I sometimes use mint because I like it. As I say, the choice is yours and you can be fairly creative. Bay leaf is another option, and appears in most recipes. Add a dessertspoon of tomato puree to this, thinned with half a cup of hot water and half a teaspoon of sugar plus salt and pepper.
Stir the pot, cover it and leave it to simmer gently until the ingredients have blended nicely. I reckon on about 15 minutes for this.
• At this point you should taste it, be careful because this mixture will be very hot. Use a dessertspoon and let it cool first.
What happens next is up to you. You might want to add more salt or herbs. A little more olive oil will give it an extra Mediterranean flavour, you could also add a little red wine or a squeeze of lemon juice. I like a little dash of coriander. But as I said, it is up to you to personalise your sauce.
Bearing in mind that the commercially available jars specialise I suggest that you might think about adding some olives (stoned of course) or mushrooms or bacon. Bacon or mushrooms should be fried in a little olive oil first (while the sauce is cooking) and then added along with the juices in the pan.
If the mix seems a little thin you can either simmer it until it thickens, or you can take my advice and mix a teaspoon of flour with a little water and add that. This is the quick way and saves a lot of standing and stirring to prevent burning. Simmer gently for another 10 minutes.
I serve this with spaghetti topped with a good helping of grated cheese.
You should have enough sauce left for another day. It is very adaptable, cook a little mince and turn it into bolognaise, or swap the spaghetti for macaroni or turn it into a lasagna. It’s a good dish this one, great for families and cooks who do not want to live in the kitchen.