Hands up if you’re always searching for easy, delicious sauce recipes to pour over pasta. We all need something we can rustle up when we dash in from work, study or a very busy day. Tomato sauce is a favourite with adults and children and can be made from store cupboard ingredient, cooked in advance or even stored in the freezer. The secret to making it taste extra good is adding a touch of raw honey. Here’s why this makes a difference, how to cook pasta perfectly and our special tomato sauce recipe.
How to cook the perfect pasta
No more gloopy, soft pasta that sticks together with these simple tips:
Get a really large pot and use lots of water. Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli recommends 1 litre of water per 100g of pasta. To get the water boiling quickly here’s a tip from Nigella Lawson. Tip a small amount of water (a couple of centimetres depth) into your saucepan before you do anything else and put over a high heat with the lid on. Fill the kettle and put onto boil, when you add it to the pan it will come back to the boil really quickly. Don’t fill your pot more than three-quarters full so that it doesn’t overflow when you add the pasta.
Add salt to the water, about 1 teaspoon for every litre.
Test your pasta a couple of minutes before the time it says on the packet. Do this by taking out a piece, leaving it to cool slightly, then tasting it. It should have some bite to it (al dente or to the tooth as the Italians say).
When the pasta is cooked, scoop out a mugful of cooking water before you drain it in a colander. Replace the drained pasta back into the pan immediately, tip a little of the pasta water back in (a couple of tablespoons) then swirl it round to coat. This will stop the pasta sticking together (no need for oil). The Italians often add the sauce at this stage to coat every piece. They also don’t use too much sauce. As Biba from Biba’s Italian kitchen says “Italians like sauce with their pasta, not pasta with their sauce.” Serve immediately.
Easy, homemade tomato sauce recipe for pasta – with raw honey
Tinned tomatoes are juicy, convenient and full of goodness but can sometimes taste a bit too acidic or even metallic. A teaspoon (or two) of raw honey in the sauce mellows the acidity. Raw honey is important as, although some of the goodness will be removed by heating, it gives a depth of flavour without cloying sweetness. Commercial pasteurised honey is like using corn syrup.Ingredients
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 x 400g tins whole plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar (optional)
- 1 handful of fresh basil leaves*
- Sea salt and black pepper
Chop the onion finely and crush the garlic. Heat the olive oil gently in a medium-sized saucepan and soften the chopped onion over a low to medium heat until it softens and turns translucent (about 10 minutes). Do not let it brown at the edges. Stir in the crushed garlic and cook for a further two minutes.
Tip in the tomatoes, add the honey and vinegar if using. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
Bring the sauce to a simmer, then turn down the heat and cook gently for at least 30 minutes (45 if you have time) until starting to thicken.
Use a spatula to break the whole tomatoes and mash everything together. If you like a very smooth sauce you could blitz with a stick blender at this point. Add roughly torn basil leaves and give a final stir. Taste and add more seasoning if required.
*This is a store cupboard recipe so, if you don’t have fresh basil, add a heaped teaspoon of oregano to the tomatoes before simmering. Other herbs such as thyme and rosemary (fresh or dried) can also be used. Just don’t be too heavy-handed when adding them.