Gourmet pasta dishes prepared in the comfort of your own home has always been our modus operandi here at Pasta Evangelists HQ. However, in light of Covid-19 developments, our focus has, now more than ever, shifted towards that of preparing tasty meals with what we have to hand. While fine, and often prized ingredients feature regularly in our culinary repertoire, we feel now is not the time to encourage our readers to leave their homes, on the hunt for speciality goods. Instead, we turn to the humble pantry heroes, readily available and always delicious.
Enter, then, the tinned tomato.
The culinary ‘old faithful’ of sorts, everyone has at least one ‘save for a rainy day’ can of chopped tomatoes gathering dust at the back of their kitchen cupboard. The failsafe reserve. We implore you to celebrate the humble tinned tomato, by finally breaking that seal and transforming its bright and delicious contents into a simple yet enticing tomato sauce.
Our simple tomato and basil sauce
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Calories per serving: 56kcal
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 5-6 basil leaves, washed and chopped
Chef’s tip: Should you not have fresh basil to hand, substitute for a dried herb instead - while fresh basil would be ideal, most dried herbs will work here, or an Italian herb mix will do the trick too!
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the minced garlic and brown until your oil is fragrant - be careful not to burn the garlic here.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
- Cover and simmer on low to medium heat for 20 minutes until thickened. The sauce should be thick and shiny.
- Mix in the chopped basil and remove from heat.
- Serve with your choice of pasta and enjoy immediately, or cover and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. Alternatively, the sauce can be frozen for up to a month. Check out our recent guide to storing pasta sauce for further information.
Why stop there?
Though this simple tomato sauce is delicious as is, feel free to amplify the recipe with any ingredients you have to hand. We encourage you to get creative here - the tomato sauce serves as a perfect starting point for all means of culinary experiment!
Tomato sauce, puttanesca-style
Add a salty twist to your standard pomodoro by throwing in a handful of olives, anchovies and/or capers - whatever you have lying around in this vein - resulting in a mouthwatering sauce reminiscent of a puttanesca.
Tomato sauce with bacon and chilli
Seek inspiration from the meaty amatriciana, with its delicious morsels of guanciale suspended in a bright tomato sauce. While we understand this won’t be a regular fixture in British kitchens, should you have some bacon spare, this lends a similarly salty note to a simple tomato sauce. Though untraditional, using smoked meat adds further dimension to your amped up pomodoro. Toss in some dried chilli flakes, and a lashing of hard cheese (pecorino is traditional, though likewise, anything to hand will do!) and this pantry sauce is complete.
Pomodoro con tonno
Should you have a can of tuna spare, tossing this with your tomato sauce, alongside a sprinkling of chilli flakes and a few punchy olives can result in a surprisingly pleasant dish. Tuna preserved in oil works best here, though whatever you have available will do just fine.
Notice a few sorry-looking ends of vegetables remaining in your fridge? Enable them to shine in a spicy and fresh arrabbiata sauce. Courgettes, peppers and aubergines work especially well in this dish when grilled, though most vegetables will do well when smothered in a delicious sauce. Just be sure to add a healthy dose of chilli to the mix, for that signature arrabbiata punch.
Finishing your dish
Be sure to pair any number of these flavoursome sauces with a pasta of your choosing, and a generous blanket of Italian hard cheese, for a delectable dinner for yourself and your household. As mentioned, now is the time to experiment and expand your culinary knowledge! For some great, at-home pasta schooling, be sure to tune in to our Pause for Pasta cook-alongs, every week from Wednesday to Friday at 12pm, live on our Instagram channel, featuring our amazing head pastaia (pasta maker), chef Roberta. Fun for the whole household, these speedy and simple tutorials are designed to nurture even the greenest of fledgeling pasta chefs!
Did you try making a pantry pomodoro? Got an inspired recipe of your own? We at Pasta Evangelists HQ would love to hear from you - simply leave a comment below!
Want to send the gift of pasta to a loved one at this time? Why not send a Pasta Evangelists care package? We’ve partnered with AgeUK to create our feasting box with a conscience, consisting of three delicious and nutritious pasta dishes, delivered to yours or a loved one’s door, all of which are ready in under 10 minutes. Plus, we’ll donate £5 from every box to AgeUK*, supporting the amazing work they're doing at this challenging time. #PastaCare
*£5 from every box sold will be donated to Age UK (Registered charity number 1128267) to provide support for older people in need. Funds will be used wherever the need is greatest.