This is my favourite tomato base for spaghetti and pasta dishes. It is deep and intense in flavour and if allowed to cook gently in a slow cooker for a few hours the flavours and aromas will be enhanced as the ingredients mature and develop. The longer the slow cooking process, the richer the taste.
The quantity here will make enough rich spaghetti sauce for 4 persons
This recipe, the aroma, always brings back childhood memories of sneaking into my father’s greenhouse in late summer, the wonderful heady smell of maturing tomatoes still on the vine; and then sitting there, out of sight, feasting on the plumpest, reddest tomato that I could find, before mum found me.
Half an hour preparation and preliminary cooking.
Anything from 2 to 6 hours in the slow cooker depending on the time available to you.
Makes approximately 500 to 600 ml of sauce (16 to 20 fluid ounces)
½kg (1 pound) tomatoes deseeded and chopped
I large white onion, chopped/diced into small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
½ red pepper chopped small
½ teaspoon crushed pink peppercorns
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 TABLESPOON tomato puree
½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs or dried Herbes de Provence
300ml (10 fluid ounces) good vegetable stock or Bouillon
1 TABLESPOON Olive Oil for frying
Put the slow cooker on, with a little hot water inside, to begin warming through.
Heat the Olive Oil in a frying pan.
Gently fry the onions for three minutes, then add the pepper corns, red pepper and garlic and continue to gently fry until the onions are just starting to change colour, a slight hint of brown.
Add the tomatoes and stir.
After two minutes, add the stock, the sugar and the tomato puree.
Stir to bring everything together and bring back to a gentle simmer for 30 seconds.
Empty the slow cooker of any water and then add your sauce mix to the slow cooker.
Stir in the mixed herbs or Herbes de Provence.
Put the lid on the slow cooker and set to low.
Leave the sauce to cook for as long as possible, anything from 2 to 6 hours.
The sauce should be rich and thick at the end of cooking. If you want a thicker sauce, leave the lid off the slow cooker for the last hour or so to allow some of the vapour to escape, keeping an eye on the consistency.
This sauce can be made the day before, kept in the refrigerator and reheated on the day, in fact the taste improves by doing this. Any leftover sauce can be put into the freezer.
We enjoy this as a simple pasta and sauce dish for a light lunch or as a main meal with meat, mince or vegetables. It is particularly tasty served over the top of freshly cooked cauliflower. It is a very versatile sauce.
I prefer to deseed my tomatoes but it is not necessary. If you do want to deseed them before chopping them, this is the method that I use. Cut the tomatoes in half along the Equator; imagine that they are little worlds, the stalk is the North Pole, the opposite end the South Pole, so slice in the middle of the two poles along the Equator. Now, place the cut side onto a piece of kitchen roll and squeeze gently. The seeds will come out and stay on the kitchen roll. Personally, I always wear a kitchen apron when deseeding tomatoes, there is always at least one tomato where the seeds decide to make a run for it, and usually in my direction.
There are none of the common fourteen allergens in the fresh ingredients for this recipe, but do check the ingredients list for the Bouillon stock.
Some people do not like the taste of garlic and some do not eat garlic for medical reasons(e.g. haemophilia), in which case it can be left out.