I’ve been writing on Ready for Ten recently (I would link to it but it’s not published yet – patience, grasshopper) about the age old dilemma of getting the kids to eat enough fruit and veg. I make this sauce a lot (I use it as soup as well) and although it’s got plenty of green veg in, it still looks like plain ol’ tomato which puts paid to ‘ewww – what’s that?’ – my most favourite dinnertime question. Plus, of course, there’s the satisfaction of getting one over on your kids, which is always a bonus.
Of course, even if your family will happily eat their five a day, it’s still a great tea-time all rounder. You can:
- add in other veg, increase the stock and serve as soup with some easy herby bread
- tart it up with 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (put them in at the beginning) and some fried streaky bacon strips
- add basil and pour over pan-fried meatballs
- use in lasagnes and bolognese
- stir into a pack of tortellini (spinach and ricotta is our favourite) and sprinkle with Parmesan
- pour over chicken breasts, dot with torn pieces of mozzarella and bake in the oven
I could go on, but frankly I’m starting to bore myself, but you get the message: it’s incredibly versatile. It has a lovely mellow sweet flavour too. This quantity makes enough to cover pasta for four people and a portion for the freezer too. Ninja costumes at the ready, then:
You will need:
1 large leek
1 large onion
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp salt
1 tin good quality tomatoes (don’t use the cheapo ones, they’re too runny)
The same amount of stock (chicken, veg, bouillon, whatever)
1 tsp sugar
Freshly ground pepper
So slice the leek lengthways and rinse under running water to remove any grit or mud. Chop finely.
Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-based saucepan and pop in the leek. Finely chop the onion and add that in too. Sprinkle with the salt and then cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally for a good ten minutes until everything is well softened.
Add in a tsp of sugar and the tinned tomatoes. Fill the tin once more with the stock (if I don’t have any home made I just pop in a stock cube and top it up with boiling water). Add in to the pan.
Now just cover and leave it for half an hour. This bit’s really important – everything needs to be really soft to get the texture right. After that, you can remove from the heat, blend with a stick blender and test the seasoning (add pepper or a touch more salt). You’ll end up with a really gorgeous smooth sauce and – here’s the bonus – no hint of anything green in there.
I love a bit of stealth health. Off you go, then, team…