This is my version of traditional red pasta sauce, if you want a meat version add approximately 1 kg of quality beef mince (or better still a 50/50 mixture of beef and pork) or cubed beef pieces. The meat should be browned as part of the step 1 preparation.
1 brown onion (finely diced)
2 garlic cloves (finely diced or minced)
2 mild or hot chillies (finely diced) – optional but then it is not calabrian pasta sauce
1 red pepper (sliced thinly)
½ cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 teaspoons of olive oil
750mls of tomato passata
300 grams of diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
1. Place onion, garlic and chilli into a large pot or fry pan (make sure the pot or pan has a lid). Add olive oil and heat at a medium temperature, until onion begins to soften.
2. Add pepper, basil and oregano and allow to cook 3 to 4 minutes, so the pepper softens and basil and oregano infuse with the oil. Make certain to stir the ingredients occasionally.
3. Place dice tomatoes into the pot, add a good pinch of salt and pepper and allow the tomato to sweat and soften (a few minutes), before adding the tomato passata.
4. Stir well, seal with lid and turn stove to its lowest setting. Allow the mixture to simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. The sauce is generally cooked when it has reduced by half.
The time taken for the sauce to be ready depends on the water content in the diced tomatoes and the passata sauce used, some are very watery whilst others are already in a concentrated form. Generally, a good red tomato sauce is ready when the ingredients in the pot have an emulsified appearance rather than a watery liquid appearance. The longer the sauce simmers, then the richer it’s flavour will be and the better it will coat your pasta.
If you do not have access to bottled passata you can use tinned tomatoes entirely, simply add a
tablespoon or two of tomato puree to intensify the flavour. Furthermore, you can also add other ingredients to the sauce as it simmers to impart different flavours – ie field mushrooms are a wonderful addition, as are strips of zucchini, grated carrot or even sliced eggplant which has been lightly fried or grilled.