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Jamie Oliver's Simple Tomato Sauce


This recipe is worth going out of your way to find the Italian tomatoes, making a huge batch and freezing it in baggies to try his variations or in your own concoctions. Try this!

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  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or chopped fresh basil stalks
  • 1 whole red chili
  • 28 oz can (800 gr) whole plum tomatoes (good-quality Italian ones are best)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar


Servings 4


Step 1

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add some olive oil and fry the garlic, oregano (or basil stalks) and whole red chili. Pierce the red chili first so it doesn't explode. It will give a subtle heat to the sauce.

2. Saute just a minute or two until fragrant then add the canned tomatoes. Do not mash the tomatoes, as the seeds can be bitter and if you chop them up right away the sauce won't be as sweet as it should be.

3. Lightly season with salt and pepper, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the chili.

4. Break and mash the tomatoes up with a spoon, season the sauce more carefully with a bit more salt and pepper, and add a tiny swig of red wine vinegar just to give the sauce a little twang.

It is now ready to serve with pasta, or stir in some additions to take this sauce forward:

Spicy Arrabiatta - start the tomato sauce off by adding a few more whole fresh chili's. After the sauce has simmered for 15 to 20 minutes, remove the chili's, chop them up and add back as much as you need to give your arrabiatta the desired heat.

Tomato Basil - a real crowd-pleaser can be made by taking the tomato sauce off the heat when it's ready and adding a big handful of torn fresh basil, a nice swig of balsamic vinegar, a good knob of butter and a handful of grated Parmesan. This is fantastic with pasta like rigatoni or tagliatelle, or with grilled meats and fish.
Puttanesca - simmer the sauce gently with a handful of good pitted and squashed olives, a couple of anchovies and a handful of capers. You can take this in a different direction by flaking in a can of tuna when the sauce is ready.

Tagliatelle, Spinach & Goat Cheese - Cook tagliatelle in a pot of salted boiling water while the sauce is simmering. Just before the pasta is ready, stir in a large handful of spinach into the tomato sauce. Drain the pasta saving a bit of the pasta water, and toss with olive oil and the reserved water, then pour your spinach and tomato sauce over top. Toss and top with grated Parmesan and crumbled goat cheese.

Fish or Chicken, Olives and Basil - Pour your warmed tomato sauce into a small baking pan and put a couple of fish fillets on top. If you prefer to use chicken breasts, brown them first in a little oil before placing them on top. Sprinkle with some pitted olives, capers and basil leaves and top with a little torn mozzarella, and place in the oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes until the fish is cooked. If using chicken breasts they will need about 20 minutes.

Sausages Baked in Tomato Sauce - Pour your warmed tomato sauce into a baking pan or oven proof dish. Take some nice sausages, toss them in a little olive oil, then place them on top of the sauce and cook at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until the sausages are golden and crisp on top. Throw whole basil leaves on top to serve. The sausages will be nice and juicy on the bottom from the sauce and lovely and crisp on top. To turn it into a cassoulet, add a can of beans such as cannellini, flageolet, haricot or chickpeas and chunks of bacon before you bake.


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