Pasta is one of the cheapest and easiest meals to make at home, thanks to dried pasta.
Sure you can buy a jar of sauce and make a simple pairing, but here is an easy, healthier alternative. Note: This can be vegetarian or include meat.
The basics of a pasta sauce/ bolognese are as follows
- Pasata. Pasata is basically an extremely inexpensive plain tomato sauce for the base of your pasta sauce. It’s generally cheaper and lower in salt and sodium than a flavoured pasta base so it’s well worth a try. Toss it in over the rest of the ingredients once they’re all in there. Use as much or as little as you want, this will simply determine how much liquid is in your sauce.
- Onion and Garlic. As always, this combo is essential to the base of a sauce. Cook them together before adding the rest of your ingredients to the pot.
- Tonnes of vegetables. Even when using some mince in my sauces, I usually make the ratio of vegetables to meat about 3:2. The best way to get a good consistency is to chop the veggies up as small as you can. Whilst you can basically use anything, my favourites are:
- Mushroom (adds to a meaty consistency)
- Carrot (best grated)
- Tomato (these can be fresh of diced tinned tomatoes)
- Zucchini (best if grated)
- Meat (optional). Minced anything will go well with a pasta sauce.
- Flavours. Salt and pepper is key to the pasta sauce. But to help build a full body of flavour I’d suggest herbs such as basil and parsley, and a little bit of cumin and paprika spices
- Time. Once everything is in the pot, put the heat on low, pop a lid on the pot, and leave the sauce to simmer, to gain as much flavour as possible. Half an hour should do the trick, but make sure to be tasting the sauce and letting your taste buds guide you.
All that is left from this stage is to cook your pasta, and mix them together. I usually like to make a large amount of sauce, and save some. If its particularly chunky, like bolognese, I like to make toasted bolognese sandwiches the next day, but that’s just me.
Those are the very basics of upping your pasta sauce game from just a jar of pre-flavoured sauce. Once you’re most confident try different things such as tossing in a bit of red wine or subbing salt for soy sauce. Anything is possible.