Monday, December 9, 2013

Veggie Tomato Pasta Sauce

Every now and then I take a look inside my giant fridge and realise there's an awful of vegetables lurking in the salad drawer.  And they have to be used because throwing out food is a big no-no.  I have various way of using up the sad and lonely vegetables like Chicken and Aubergine Parmigiana or Carrot & Courgette Spaghetti.  This time around, I had onions, courgette, aubergines and fennel to choose from so I decided to make a veggie-packed tomato pasta sauce which I could use or freeze for other dinners. 

This is a great sauce to use with mince for Bolognese, with meatballs, in a lasagne or just on its own with some pasta for a really fast dinner.  The quantities here make 6 generous servings or three Chinese takeaway-sized plastic containers.  Go wild and vary the veg - if you like peppers, throw them in, same goes for mushrooms, celery or carrots.  If you only have dried herbs, don't worry, they'll add a great flavour to the sauce.  I fry each of the vegetables separately in a little bit of oil and season them individually to get maximum flavour into my sauce.  It's worth the extra 10 minutes or so, and you can chop up the next vegetable while one is cooking away in the frying pan.  Another little suggestment is to add some sugar to the final sauce once you've poured in the tomatoes.  Tinned tomatoes are a little bit bitter and need the sugar to balance out the taste.
Veggie Tomato Pasta Sauce
3-4 tsp Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Aubergine, chopped into small dice
1 Courgette, chopped into small dice
1 head Fennel, trimmed and finely sliced
1 carton of Passata
1 tin Plum Tomatoes
1 tbsp Sugar
Herbs (I use Oregano, Rosemary & Basil)

In a large frying pan, fry the onion in 1 tsp oil for 8-10 minutes on a low heat until soft and translucent.  Season with salt & pepper and add the garlic for the final minute before transferring to a large pot.
Add another teaspoon of oil to the pan and fry the aubergine until golden, seasoning again with salt & pepper, before adding to the pot.  Repeat with the courgette and fennel.

Add the passata & tomatoes to the pot and stir well.  If you're using dried herbs, add them now.  If you're using fresh, put them in at the end of cooking.  Add the sugar and stir in well.

Let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Serve immediately or transfer to plastic containers, cool completely and freeze. 
This sauce will keep in the freezer for 6 months


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