I have gleaned a trick or two over the years for making the perfect red pasta sauce. Below are my five top tips to making a mean red sauce. The best thing about this sauce is that it is so versatile. It can be used straight on pasta (penne always works well with red sauce), used as a base for nachos, pizza, lasagne, canelloni, ravioli - you name it, red sauce is the ultimate easy to make item that can be used in a myriad of ways! So here are my top five tips to making a mean red sauce.
Number 1 Tip for making red sauce: Anchovies. I know. I know sounds weird. But these little guys really add a bite not to mention a nice saltiness. I have used anchovies in my sauce now for years and I wouldn't do without them. Some people use capers. So experiment see what suits you best. I believe both are used for the same effect - they are equally salty and give that oomph to a dish.
Number 2 Tip
Stock Cubes. Massal are my favourite - a little more expensive than your regular Oxo or other brand cubes but so packed with flavour that they are worth it. I put in one vegetable stock cube and one beef. They add the punch the sauce needs. Number 3 Tip A splash of good red wine. This one almost goes without saying. It really pays to invest in a semi decent bottle of red wine. I like Shiraz because it is nice and hearty but if you prefer a more mellow flavour why not go for a lighter Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. The choice is yours!
Number 4 Tip A good olive oil. Now there is no excuse for not investing in a decent virgin olive oil! Virgin olive oil is well priced these days and also comes in different varieties, such as Robust or Fruity. Again, like the wine it comes down to taste. If you want a more traditional sauce stick to you plain old olive oil. Note: Italian Olive Oil is generally of better quality than Spanish.
Number 5 Tip. Basil, basil and more basil. Basil is my all time favourite herb and not only adds colour to red sauce but also oodles of flavour. Cut it finely and add at the end of the cooking time.
Recipe for Tomato Red Sauce
Ingredients 2 Tins of Italian or organic tomatoes whole or crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 Handfuls of basil, finely chopped
3-4 Anchovies in oil
Five cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 Massel beef stock cube
1 Massel vegetable stock cube
Good splash of extra virgin italian olive oil
Good splash of red wine
Chilli to taste (optional)
Salt (as there is quite a lot of salt in the anchovies and stock cubes you may not need it. Just taste the sauce to see if it needs any extra salt) Note: If you want to make arabbiata, add quite a lot of chilli.
Method. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Whilst the oil is heating on a low to medium heat, chop onions and garlic finely.
Add 3-4 anchovies and a little bit of the anchovy oil into the saucepan. Allow to cook for a minute or so on a low heat.
Add chopped onion and garlic as well as both stock cubes. Cook for 5 - 7 minutes or until onion starts to go soft again on a low- medium heat.
Add the red wine till the onion, garlic, anchovies and stock cubes make a gravy like sauce. Cook for a another 5 or so minutes on medium and then add tinned tomatoes.
Cook sauce for around 25 minutes and then add finely chopped Basil and cook for 5 more minutes.