For a quick midweek dinner using store cupboard items this dish is fairly easy to put together and very satisfying too. I have used Tinned Plum Tomato but you could use tinned Chopped Tomato too. I have also added capers to this dish as I had some lying in my fridge but if you don’t have it then do not worry. I have used Spaghetti here but you could make it with with whatever pasta you have lying around. I would have loved to have been able to finish this dish with a good sprinkling of Parsley but on this occasion I had none left. So if you do have some add them just before serving. You could also add chopped olives if you prefer and have some lying around. (ps. the sprinkling that you see in this picture is a shop bought Chilli Garlic Mix that also includes fennel. Its quite nice and I add this to a lot of my food).
Ingredients (the sauce should make for 4 to 5 portions)
Spaghetti – about 75 to 100 gms per portion
Tinned Plum Tomato – one tin
Tin of Tuna – 2 of 185 gms tins (use no drain or spring water ones if possible)
Garlic Cloves – 4 medium Chopped
Shallots – 2 small (or a small onion) very finely chopped
Dried Red Chilli – one medium chopped
Capers – around 15
Salt and Pepper
Handful of Chopped Parsley
Juice of a quarter lemon
Heat oil in a Heavy Bottom Pan. Add the Chopped Garlic and Chilli. Fry for about 30 seconds and add the Chopped Shallots or onions. Fry for a couple of minutes on medium flame. Then add the Capers and the Tomatoes. Add a little salt and stir with the flame turned medium to high. When it starts to bubble reduce the heat and simmer gently with a lid on for about 20 mins stirring from time to time. Now prepare the Pasta as per packet instructions which should take around 10 minutes of boiling. When Pasta is almost done add the drained tuna to the sauce and stir. Check for seasoning and take it off the the heat. Squeeze in the Lemon Juice. Drain the pasta well and mix it with the sauce. Divide into bowls and Sprinkle with the chopped Parsley and serve with a Salad or some Garlic Bread
Bolognaise is one of the most common form of an Italian Meat Sauce that’s popular the world over. However there are no standardised recipe and presumably every family have their own version largely influenced by which part of Italy they come from. When I came to UK first I got introduced to this very tomato rich sauce with mince meat and often had mushrooms thrown in. Most of the generic ones that I had tried used to repeat on me and I found them very acidic. That put me off initially and then I would not order it from a menu based on my prior experiences and the same went for Lasagne. But I liked the concept. It was much later that I started researching it and got drawn back into it so much so that I wanted to create a version that agreed with me. In 2007 Heston Blumenthal had a show on Television that got my attention. It also revolutionised the way I perceived Bolognaise Sauce. He used milk like they use in certain parts of Italy that I previously did not knew could be done. So I simplified the process to suit me and came up with my own version. You can also read about different techniques on The Guardian’s website here or follow a close version of the original recipe here on Kok Robins’s blog.
I am not claiming any authenticity here but this is a recipe that I have come up using easily available products that tastes good and is not overly complicated. This is also a healthier version where I have cut out some of the initial oil, used lean mince and have not used any cream or butter at the end. It does take a bit of time but its the time that makes this sauce in my opinion. The amount of each each ingredient varies as I do not have any fixed amounts yet so most of them are approximation.
Olive Oil 50 ml
Garlic 3 large cloves chopped
Red Chilli 1 medium chopped
Onion 1 large diced
Celary 3 stalks diced
Carrots 2 medium diced
White Wine 100 ml
Milk 250 ml approx
Lean Mince Beef 400gms
Good quality seasoned Sausages 4 (slightly course mix is preferable)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tomato Puree 1 tbsp
Plum Tomato 1 tin (I usually make without without any but increase the puree to 2 tbsp)
Worcester Sauce 1 tablespoon
Fish Sauce 1 tablespoon ( I have also used Anchovy paste instead )
Staranise 2 whole
Thyme 2 tsp dry or one fresh sprig (I have also used mixed dry Italian herbs instead)
Heat oil in a heavy bottom casserole dish. Add the chopped garlic and chopped chilli and stir. After a minute add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle some salt and sweat it over low to medium heat with the cover on for about 20 mins stirring often. Turn up the heat and add the white wine. Fry for a bit longer but without browning the vegetables till the wine is absorbed. Now add the mince meat and the sausage meat. Fry and break up the chunks as you go along. Now add the Worcester Sauce, fish sauce, and salt and pepper. Add the Bayleaf, thyme and star anise. Stir for a about 10 minutes and then add just enough milk to cover the mixture. Now bring to a boil and simmer on a very very low flame for about one hour stirring occasionally . Now add the tomato puree and the plum tomato (if using). Stir and simmer on low flame for a further 30 minutes. Check for seasoning and serve with a good quality pasta with grated Italian dry cheese on top.
We also use the same sauce to make lasagne at home using shop bought lasagne sheet (also green lasagne sheets), home made bechamel sauce and little cheese on top. If using the sauce for Lasagne we are more inclined to add the plum tomato.
There is something nice about the smell of roasted peppers. Pepper roasted in the Oven with a bit of Olive Oil will stay in a fridge for up to 10 days or more (ours are usually gone by two days). We mostly use them to make a simple creamy Sauce. You can also have the slices in a salad, pizza toppings, sandwich filler. The sauce is a good way to get more veg into fussy children too as they will love sweet creamy taste. If you make the sauce slightly thicker then you can also use it as a dip or a spread. We usually make ours slightly thicker and store in a closed container for a few days. We dilute it and use it for a quick pasta sauce. We also often add diced Chicken or prawns to make it into a more substantial meal.
We use red peppers where possible and also the yellow peppers but have found out that the green one do not work for this recipe. Usually find that two red peppers and one yellow pepper is enough for about 4 portions give or take. Put the peppers in a roasting tin. Cover with olive oil and roast in an 200 degree C oven for about 30 to 40 mins turning 2 to 3 times till the skin gets gently charred. If uou have a barbeque then you could roast the peppers on it. Take out into a bowl and cover with a foil and let cool. Roast the garlic cloves in the same pan for about 10 to 15 mins stirring few times without burning them. Meanwhile fry some sliced shallots or small white onions in olive oil till soft and translucent. Use a coverd pan over a low heat stirring frequently. This could take some time. When the onions are done let it cool. While that’s cooling peel the charred skin of the peppers and cut and take the stalk and seeds off. Add everything together and blitz in a food processor adding about 4 tablespoon of soft cream cheese and 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Don’t overdo this as a bit of texture is preferable.
Serve mixed with freshly cooked pasta (usuing a bit of the drained pasta cooking water to loosen the mixture. We love ours as it is or with the addition of chicken or prawns) or store in a closed container to use as a dip or spread.