We all have cravings and penchants for foods that others might consider weird – myself included. But one friend who’s tweets I follow on Twitter caught my attention for the wrong reason as I deemed what he eats to not be “food”.
Concoctions such as “ham and cheese sandwiches with HP sauce”, “french bread, ham and cheese, croissants with philly and jam and a cappacuino and hot chocolate”.
This boy needed to be taught a thing or two about simple dishes that are easy to cook and are SO much better for your diet.
First up – my simple marinara sauce.
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove, minced or chopped finely (this is where you can pretend you’re in The Soprano’s and use a razor if you must)
- 1/2 chopped onion (optional – red is best but white is fine)
- 1 tsp of paprika or cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp chilli powder or dried chilli flakes (can add more if you want very spicy!)
- dash of dried, mixed herbs (thyme, basil, oregano)
- black pepper
- dash of salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- extra virgin olive oil to cook
- basil leaves (optional)
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, before it gets too hot, if using onions, gently fry to soften, otherwise pour in your chopped tomatoes and stir.
Turn up the heat a bit, add in your garlic, herbs, chilli, black pepper and salt. Stir again. This is the core ingredient – sugar. A tablespoon of sugar (must be brown) gives the sauce a nice deep rich taste and takes the edge off of the tomatoes. Add in the sugar and stir in. Turn the heat right down to simmer for about 15-20 mins.
The thing that is so great about this sauce is that you can add what you want to make it versatile. Here are some options:
- At the simmer stage you can add in pitted black olives which goes very well with this kind of sauce.
- Prawns: fry prawns for two minutes separately and stir into the sauce before serving
- Chicken: chop chicken breasts into medium sized cube pieces and fry separately before adding to the sauce
- Tuna: As soon as you’ve put the tinned tomatoes in the saucepan, add a tin of tuna (mash up before adding to separate flakes)
- If you’re feeling adventurous, give the dish a real Italian twist and add meatballs. The meatballs will need to be pre rolled, refrigerated to set and then fried in a pan to cook before adding to the sauce
All of the above should be served with Linguine, Spaghetti or pasta (Rigatoni, Fusili and Penne recommended).
I advise making the marinara sauce and storing air tight in a fridge. You can then simply choose what you want to go with it (apart from the tuna) and cook that and the pasta before warming through your sauce. It’s also great for freezing.