Tomato sauce recipe, Empress Felicity style

For me personally, knowing how to make tomato sauce the most useful technique of the lot, because I like Italian-style food so much! It’s also brilliant if you’re a keen vegetable grower, because inevitably there will be years when you find that you have too many tomatoes on your hands and need to think up ways to use them (let’s face it, there’s only so much chutney a person can handle).
Note: when I refer to quantities it will be enough to feed two reasonably hungry people. It’s up to you to scale things up or down depending on how many you’re cooking for.
Chop up half an onion and fry in oil or butter, or a mixture of both. When the onion’s gone glassy but not brown, add a chopped garlic clove (I like to puree it using the finest setting on a grater – no bits to stick in your teeth that way. But make sure you don’t end up grating your fingers as well). Almost immediately – before the garlic has a chance to burn – add a pound of chopped fresh tomatoes, or a tin of chopped tomatoes. You may come across recipes that insist you peel and de-seed the fresh tomatoes first. This strikes me as a complete waste of time – your sauce will be fine with the seeds and peel left in; in fact, the peel is good for you. If you really don’t like tomato peel, you can always fish out the offending bits when the sauce is nearly cooked.
Add a small pinch of sugar. You can also add tomato puree, stock and herbs such as oregano to taste. Simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes, with frequent stirring. Taste for seasoning – add salt and pepper if you want, or even a couple of chilli flakes. A dash of soy sauce or blob of Marmite is also good, but be very sparing with it. Near the end of cooking, you may find that you need to thicken the sauce with cornflour paste, particularly if you’ve used tinned tomatoes rather than fresh. Mix a heaped dessertspoon of cornflour with enough water in a cup to form a liquid with the consistency of double cream. Take the tomato sauce off the heat, and mix the cornflour liquid with it thoroughly. Put back on the heat, stirring all the while to ensure that you don’t get gloopy bits. If it doesn’t come out thick enough, you can always add another batch of cornflour liquid. Serve with pasta, and garnish with fresh basil if wanted.
For bolognaise sauce, add a chopped rasher of bacon or some cold chopped roast pork, plus half a pound of beef mince after you first put the tomatoes in.
For chilli con carne, add bacon and mince as for the bolognaise, and also add a tin of kidney beans (drained) and a pinch of cumin seeds and a bit of chilli powder (leave it up to you to decide on the quantity but if you’re not sure, be cautious at first and gradually add more until you’ve got the taste how you like it).
If you’re doing pasta with this, you’ll need to have boiling water ready about 10 minutes before the end, to allow time to cook the pasta. For white rice, you will need to allow 20 minutes’ cooking time before the end. Enjoy.
© Empress Felicity October 2009

You don’t have to make these into chutney! (BTW if you’re wondering what the brown object is, it’s a fig from our fig tree.)