Tomato Sauce/Ragout

Cost of 500g sauce for two people: 69p

A ready-made basic sauce from Tesco is 85p and has lots of sugar in plus something called a ‘firming agent’ which is spooky sounding. 500g sauces made by companies like Dolmio cost around £2.00!! 

£2.00 versus 69p?

You can use this in SO many ways, it is cheap, good for you, and versatile. Have it on its own with pasta – just grate cheese on and maybe some basil, and it’s a meal in itself. Add meat and turn it into Bolognaise sauce.  Use it as a layer in lasagne. Blend it so it’s smooth and have it as soup.

  • 1 tin of tomatoes (40p)
  • 1 small onion (10p)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely or crushed (6p)
  • 1 tablespoon oil – (1p)
  • 1 teaspoon of stock powder (6p) (click for info on stock)
  •  half a teaspoon of sugar (1p)
  • 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce (4p)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree (1p)
  • pepper (this recipe needs NO salt!)
  •  2 bay leaves (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons sun-dried tomato paste (optional)

Chop the onion quite finely and put in a pan with the oil. Soften them over a medium heat for ten minutes or so with the lid on, giving the pan a shake every few minutes so they don’t stick too much. If they do stick a bit it’s not a problem, they might even go a bit caramel-coloured which will taste even better. 

And here’s one of the lovely basic transformations of cooking:cooking onionsWhen they look like the right hand picture, add the tomatoes. Swill the tin out with 4 tablespoons of water and put that in too. (I hate waste!) If the tomatoes weren’t ready chopped dig into them with scissors and cut them up a bit.

Add all the other ingredients. Cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes. This means it needs to bubble a bit, but not boil or otherwise be too energetic.

After 20 minutes you can eat it if you are short on time: it will still be a bit watery, but it’ll be tasty. It really needs more cooking to make it thicker and meld the flavours even more. 

So just cook it as long as you have. A total of 40 minutes is great. If you have an hour, do it for an hour. 

At this point you can either blend it quickly (ie not so it turns into soup), or do what I do which is get a potato masher and gently mash it to break up the soft onions and bits of tomato. It makes it a bit smoother but there’s no danger of it becoming soup.

Done. Easy. Or as we used to say in school: pupsy.



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