Recipe: The basic pasta sauce.

13 May

S1410007OK so this Friday is Jamie Oliver’s food revolution day for 2013. Exciting stuff eh? Not sure what that is? Go look here or go search the #FRD2013 hash tag on twitter, tumblr or whatever it is you use. 

As a result of this I was reminded of how many of my friends at university seem no idea of how to cook a good meal on a budget and it kind of appalls me. Over my life time I learnt to cook from my parents with a little bit of help from this endless bucket of information we call the internet. (also cooking programs… a lot of them.) This well I’m doing a recipe a day with a a round up of tips on Friday as my little support for one of my favorite chefs.

The first recipie every student, and anyone in need of a quick go to meal, needs to know is a basic tomato sauce. Pretty great on it’s own with pasta but once you get going you can have some real fun with it. One batch cook of this stuff and you’ve got a fair few freezer portions ready to store away for a lazy night.

The Basic ingredients:

2 x tinned tomatoes. (or 1 tin tomatoes and 1 jar/portion passata)

1 medium/large onion

2 cloves garlic

drop olive oil


Optional ingredients: 

Grated carrot

grated courgette

diced celery

mince beef


Okay I think you get the “throw whatever you feel like in there” picture. Depending on what it is it will cook differently but most things you can just throw in and they cook through.


1. Heat a drop of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat while you finely chop the onions. If you’re knife skills aren’t great don’t worry about it too much they might just take a little longer. Sweat off the onions until they change colour and have softened up.

2. Throw in the garlic and any other veg you might be adding. Give this a good stir and a minute or two to soften up. If you’ve got any raw meat now is the time to put it in and let it brown off.

Note: mince doesn’t need to brown off as much as people think. It’s consistency and larger surface area means that it’ll cook well enough in the sauce.

3. Now that’s done in goes all the liquid and tomatoes. You could always add a drop of lemon juice for a kick, Worcester sauce, a stock cube etc. Mix it all up adding in any herbs and season to taste. All that’s left is leaving it to cook now for a minimum 20 mins. It’s the sort of thing you can leave to bubble on the stove for an hour or two and the flavors work just that much better.

Okay so it’s ready to eat but fair chance if you’re a student that it’s only you who’s being fed off of it. Portion it up into Tupperware and bung it in the freezer then it’s just a few minutes in the microwave whilst you’ve got some pasta on the go and you’ve got dinner.

So here comes the important part: costing, personally I have the three main ingredients in the house anyway but:

2 tins of basic tomatoes can be as little as 70p.

I bought a big jar of minced Garlic to last the year for about £3 so the amount I used would have been about 10p worth at most. (don’t judge me I like garlic)

An onion comes in at a little under 20p at Tesco.

So for the very basic you’ve spent a pound. The last Batch I made involved a grated carrot and a grated courgette to veg it up and bulk it up a little meaning it came in at £1.38. Portioning it up with a variety of uses I’ve had about 8 meals out it with more still in the freezer.

1.38 divided by 8 comes in at less then 20p a portion. Now with a cheap bag of 30p pasta from morrisons basics range you’ve got at least 8 meals for less then £2 with minimal effort.

2 Responses to “Recipe: The basic pasta sauce.”


  1. Recipe: lazy pizza | Nameless Non-ficton - May 15, 2013

    […] other ingredients ready. You’re puree or pasata is your sauce, an alternative could be a home made tomato sauce or you could mix in some garlic with the pasata etc. Take your base out of the oven and start […]

  2. 5 Top tips for student food: Food Revolution Day 2013 | Nameless Non-ficton - May 17, 2013

    […] freeze it later. So I’ve got a recipe perfect for this in the form of a basic pasta sauce but you can do it with pretty much any sauce based recipe, stew or […]

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