Tag Archives: tomatoes

Two Hour Tomato Sauce

I have been promising people this sauce recipe for what feels like forever…so here it is, just in time for the Easter holidays!  It is my go-to tomato sauce recipe, the backbone of ‘mum’s spaghetti’ in our house and also great on pizzas, in lasagnes, and anything else that requires a kick of tangy tomato goodness.

This quantity makes a big batch of sauce, enough to dress 1kg of spaghetti.  That’s good for my family of five as we like to have leftovers in the fridge (my teenagers will fry up batches of leftover spaghetti at all hours!) but you could store some and use it later in the week for another dish, or freeze it, if that’s too much for you and yours.

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • large pinch chilli flakes
  • 6 tins good quality plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 supermarket packs fresh basil, leaves removed from stalks and chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan.  When hot, add the chopped garlic and sizzle for 30 seconds or so (don’t burn it) then add the dried oregano and chilli flakes and stir to combine.  When they are sizzling too, put in the tinned tomatoes and mix gently.

Bring the tomatoes to the boil, stirring occasionally.  Try not to break up the tomatoes during cooking, you will do that at the end.  Once they are boiling turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer for – you guessed it – two hours.  Gently stir the sauce every now and then to stop it from sticking.

When your sauce is looking nice and reduced, take it off the heat and add the red wine vinegar.  Mix in the vinegar, vigorously breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.  Then add the basil, salt and pepper and mix again.

If I am using the sauce to dress pasta, I like to add a swirl of peppery virgin olive oil at the end as it does add to the flavour, but I prefer a less oily sauce if I am going to use it for pizzas or other dishes, so I’ll leave that up to you.  Enjoy!  This is a very simple sauce to make and kids love it.


Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Bread

This bread was very popular when I served it at a cheese and wine party last month – I had to promise that we would make it at the next Bread Club meeting!

  • 500g strong white flour
  • 10g salt
  • 10g fast acting yeast
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 300ml tepid water
  • 100g sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • supermarket pack fresh basil

Put the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl and mix.  Add the oil and water and knead for 5 minutes or so until you have a smooth dough.  Return to the bowl and leave to prove for an hour. Line a baking tray with non stick baking paper.

Roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes.  Remove the leaves from the basil and chop.  When the dough has proved, lay it out on a smooth surface and incorporate the tomatoes and basil leaves as best you can.  It will probably be quite oily and messy! Squash the dough into a long sausage and then tie it into a knot.  Place on the prepared tray and leave to prove for another hour.

Preheat the oven to 230C/Gas 8.  Bake the loaf for 30 minutes (don’t worry if there are some burned bits of tomato on the outside, they will taste really good) and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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Potato Gratin with Tomatoes

This dish really is very simple to do, feeds the masses and goes with everything.  What’s not to like??  Desiree or red potatoes are good here, if you go for a very floury potato they will disintegrate more – though that’s not the end of the world.  There’s nothing worse than an undercooked potato!

  • 2kg potatoes, peeled
  • 2 red onions, peeled and cut into thin wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 6 tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • Salt and pepper

Get your largest oven dish and cut a piece of non stick baking parchment to fit the top of the dish.  Preheat the oven to 170C/Fan 150C/Gas 3.

Slice the potatoes with a mandolin or a similar contraption (I have something called a JML Super Slicer) and place in a large bowl.  Throw in the onions and garlic, then add the olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper and mix well to combine.  You can use your hands, it’s easier!

Put the potato mixture into your big dish and move everything around till it’s evenly distributed and the potatoes are flattish.  Then take your tomato quarters and poke them into the top layers of potato at regular intervals so they are just peeking out.  Press it all down with your hands.

Now cover the top of the dish with the piece of parchment you cut earlier.  Don’t be tempted to use foil here as it may react with the tomatoes and turn the whole dish black!

Put the dish into the preheated oven and cook for 2 hours, taking the parchment off for the last 15 minutes so the potatoes can crisp up a bit.  Enjoy!




Oven Roasted Ratatouille

This is the only way to make ratatouille as far as I’m concerned – oven roasting the veg first gives so much flavour…

  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tins plum tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • 2 aubergines, diced
  • 4 courgettes, sliced fairly thickly
  • 4 peppers (ideally 2 red and 2 yellow but as long as they’re not green it doesn’t really matter), deseeded and cut into fat strips
  • 1 packet flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 packet basil, leave stripped from stalks and chopped
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan.  Add the onion and garlic and sweat over a low heat, covered, for at least 15 minutes until the onion is very soft.  Then add the plum tomatoes and simmer until the liquid has reduced by about a third.

In the meantime, put the aubergine into a large bowl, add olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper.  Then spread out onto a baking tray and roast for about 30 minutes till golden and charring in places.  Halfway through cooking give them a stir around the tray to stop them from sticking/burning.  Repeat this process with the peppers and courgettes.  You will need a separate tray for each, the peppers and courgettes should take a bit less time to cook than the aubergine.  You want all the veg to be really soft.

When your sauce has reduced stir in the chopped herbs, cover and set aside.  As your different trays of veg reach readiness, add them to the sauce along with any oil in the tray and mix in gently. When all the veg has been added check the seasoning and you are ready to go!

This ratatouille is really delicious and so versatile.  You can serve it with almost anything.