A great way to pasta time

[Recipe 1] SWEET TOMATO PASTA SAUCE transforms into
After a week of school holidays I can’t be shagged cooking anything fancy. Good old pasta has featured heavily on our table over the past couple of weeks.
This sweet tomato pasta sauce is fab, and full of veggies – sweet potato, carrot and even apple! Fresh basil is a must. So pleased my potted basil is valiantly hanging in there, through this crappy weather!
I like to simmer everything first, then give it a good whizz to disguise all the hidden veggies. Adding canned tomatoes right at the end of the process adds texture and prevents your sauce looking like puréed baby food.
You’ll end up with four lots of sauce for freezing and using later for ten-minute pasta dinners; including puttanesca, chilli prawns and tuna and peas. Enjoy.

Home-made sweet tomato pasta sauce

[Recipe 1] Ravioli with sweet tomato pasta sauce

Ingredients (serves 4 for 4 meals):
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small red (purple/Spanish) onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, very finely sliced
4 medium (or 2 large) carrots, peeled, grated
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, grated
7 tablespoons (1 x 140g tub) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
2 large red apples (any variety), peeled, grated
2 tablespoons verjuice (verjus), or 1 tablespoon brown sugar if unavailable
700ml (24 fl oz) bottle tomato passata (tomato puree)
2 x 400g (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) water
8 parsley stalks (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped basil
625g (12½ oz) fresh ravioli (I love alligator veal ravioli – so tasty and it freezes well)
Grated parmesan cheese to serve

Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add carrot and sweet potato and continue cooking, covered, for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add tomato paste and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add apple, verjuice, passata, water and parsley stalks. Simmer, covered, over a low heat for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Remove parsley stalks with tongs. Whizz with a stick blender or food processor until completely smooth.
Stir through the 2 cans diced tomatoes. Simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes. Season. Stir through basil.
Divide the sauce into four lots of about 1⅓ cups (600g) each; and use as required, for the following recipes.
Meanwhile, for tonight’s dinner, cook ravioli in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
Serve one portion of warm sweet tomato sauce over ravioli, scattered with parmesan.

  • Freeze tiny containers of sweet tomato pasta sauce (a couple of tablespoons in each). Cook extra penne or rigatoni and pop it in the fridge. In the morning defrost your little portion of pasta sauce and stir it through the leftover penne. Microwave on high for about a minute, and pop it in little thermoses for the kid’s lunchboxes, with grated parmesan stirred through. Easy peasy!
  • If you’re feeling energetic, you can make a pot of Home-made pizza sauce as well. Both sauces use similar ingredients. Place your saucepans side-by-side on your stove top and maximize your time!
I keep parsley stalks in the freezer for flavouring pasta sauce and home-made stock.

[Recipes 2, 3 and 4] Puttanesca, Sweet tomato sauce with chilli prawns and Sweet tomato sauce with tuna and peas

There are a total of four recipes this week (including Recipe 1). That’s 50% extra for free! All these recipes use the sweet tomato pasta sauce in Recipe 1 as the base, and all will serve four. First up is Puttanesca, which translates as ‘whore’s pasta’. I’m guessing that’s due to it being cheap and easy. It’s mostly made with pantry ingredients, so is the ultimate quick feed.

Puttanesca pasta saucePuttanesca
400g (14 oz) dried rigatoni
1⅓ cups (600g) reserved sweet tomato sauce
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
8 canned anchovies in oil, drained and chopped
½ cup (125g) black olives, pitted, halved
Grated parmesan cheese to serve
Chopped fresh basil, to serve

Cook rigatoni in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, place reserved sweet tomato sauce in a saucepan. Stir in capers, chilli, anchovies and olives. Simmer 3 minutes. Add sauce to rigatoni. Toss. Serve, scattered with parmesan and basil.

Pasta sauce with chilli prawnsSweet tomato sauce with chilli prawns
400g (14 oz) dried linguini
1⅓ cups (600g) reserved sweet tomato sauce
250g (8 oz) prawns (shrimp), cooked and peeled
1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 spring onion (scallion), finely diced
1 lemon, zested
Chopped parsley, to serve

Cook linguini in boiling water until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, place reserved sweet tomato sauce in a small saucepan. Stir in prawns and chilli. Simmer 3–5 minutes until prawns are warmed through. Add spring onion and lemon zest and stir well. Serve over linguini, scattered with parsley.

Tuna pasta sauce with peasSweet tomato sauce with tuna and peas
400g (14 oz) dried penne
½ cup frozen baby peas

1⅓ cups (600g) reserved sweet tomato sauce
1 x 185g (6 oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Shaved parmesan cheese to serve

Cook penne in boiling water until al dente. Add peas to the same pot for the last 2 minutes cooking time. Drain and return penne and peas to pan. Meanwhile, place reserved sweet tomato sauce in a small saucepan. Simmer 2 minutes. Stir in tuna, and simmer for 1 further minute. Add sauce to penne, and toss. Season. Serve, scattered with parmesan.