Growing up I wasn’t at all an adventurous cook. Rather I took pride in mastering a few basic recipes and then cooking them over and over again. One of these recipes was a good old ‘spag bol’. When it came to my spaghetti bolognese I don’t remember following an actual recipe. In fact I’m sure I didn’t – my cookbook collection was non-existent and this was before the internet arrived. I simply started with an onion and garlic base and then added browned mince meat and pasta sauce. Of course my teenage spag bol days were a long time before my ‘no processed or packaged food’ diet – so, back then, ‘Dolmio’ pasta sauce always worked a treat.
Today I wouldn’t even consider using one of the branded pasta sauces you can find in any supermarket. Because they’re typically high on added ‘nasties’ – like refined sugar. I’ll agree that in the realm of processed foods there are far greater evils than pasta sauce, but nevertheless when it’s easy to make at home with saintly ingredients there’s no excuse to take shortcuts. What’s even better is that you can make big batch at the weekend, keep half for a quick midweek meal and then freeze the rest.
Homemade pasta sauce – with red wine & eggplant
I’m hoping this post inspires you to give homemade pasta sauce a go. The red wine isn’t essential – it can be easily substituted with a little balsamic vinegar or some dried and soaked porcini mushrooms – both of which, like the wine, give the end sauce an extra wow factor.
These quantities will make enough sauce to serve 6-8 people.
- 1.2 litres tomato passata
- 6-8 garlic cloves
- 3 medium onions
- 1 medium-large eggplant/aubergine (optional)
- 1 tbsp dried oregano (or basil)
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
3 dried bay leaves
2 tsp salt
2 cups red wine (or 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar)
1 cup water
- Finely chop the onions and garlic and cook them in a large pot with a little oil until soft.
- Add the herbs, bay leaves, red wine and water. Cook until the liquid reduces by about half.
- Add the tomato passata, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
- Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook at 150C for 2-3 hours. If you’re using eggplant/aubergine chop it into small cubes and add it about an hour before the end of the cooking time.
- If you’re short on time you could simmer on the stove and reduce the cooking time – but I find that 2-3 hours in the oven makes for an extra rich pasta sauce.
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