Friday, October 8, 2010

A few basics

Everyone has a few recipes that they use over and over again – the quick and easy ones that you use on a weekly basis without even thinking about or the simple standby's that instantly transform a dish. If you look in a lot of cookbooks (especially restaurant cookbooks) either at the start or the very end of the book you will find a chapter dedicated to 'basics'. After much thought I have included a few of my fast and easy basics here (or 'extras' as I tend to label them) – it was tough because once I stopped to think about it I realised I have a lot of things I make and use as a basis to many dishes – so much so that it would probably lead to at least a month's worth of blogging about! Thankfully for now I narrowed it down to three – my basic tomato sauce recipe, which has to be my number one basics recipe as I make it all the time. Second is my cheat's aioli. I realise if I was a proper chef (or any type of chef for that matter) I would be including a recipe for real mayonnaise or aioli and although I do on certain occasions make my own mayonnaise, this cheat's aioli is so fast but so delicious that I had to include it here. I have actually already used it in one of my previous blogs, but because I do rely on it a lot it will probably feature here many times, therefore I decided it really deserved it's own posting. The third and final one is my basic vinaigrette recipe. I know a recipe for a vinaigrette might not sound very exciting but once again I use it every week. It is classic, easy and will transform any salad to new height's.

So here they are on 3 separate postings so that they have their own well deserved page....basic tomato sauce, cheat's aioli and my basic vinaigrette.

Basic Tomato Sauce

Although I named this my basic tomato sauce recipe, I realise that it doesn't really do it justice as although it may seem basic, nothing about it tastes so. I've mentioned this sauce already (Tomato Tomatoe post) because without any question of doubt, I use it at least once a week. It is perfect by itself for tossing with pasta as a simple, quick yet delicious tomato sauce finished with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a good grating of Parmesan cheese, or you can use it as a foundation recipe to which you can add any meat, fish, vegetables and herbs that you like.

I have also been known to add some cream to it, turning it into a delicious rose sauce and if the mood strikes adding a shot of vodka to the sauce for the last minute before I stir in the pasta to make a wonderful Italian tomato & vodka pasta sauce. I also use it for my pizza sauce adding an extra teaspoon of oregano or stir it into risotto for a full flavoured, bright tomato risotto. There are so many things you can do with this sauce which is why I always have it on hand, or at the least, have all of the ingredients on hand! Make a few batches and keep it in the freezer so that you always have a delicious tomato sauce on hand, ready to go.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes (or 1 x 28oz can)*
1 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper

Heat the oil in a pan and add the crushed garlic. Gently saute for a minute being careful not to brown it then add the tomatoes along with the oregano, chilli, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir well then leave to simmer and reduce slightly for 30 minutes. When it has thickened slightly and looks ready, taste to check the seasoning and use as needed.

*You can use either chopped or whole plum tomatoes, it’s up to you, just break down the whole tomatoes if that is what you are using. If however you want a completely smooth sauce, either puree the whole tomatoes (handheld blenders work perfectly) or use passata which is sieved tomatoes and therefore has no chunks!


  1. Like your version of tomato sauce, i too have many basic version that would save my days time :)

  2. Thanks Ananda. I don't know what I would do without it!


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