The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.
Over the summer both of my boys have moved out of home and into the world of shared living. It’s a very quiet house without them, and I miss them, but I am enjoying seeing them over coffee, or for Sunday lunch, and watching them embrace the freedoms and responsibilities of young adulthood. They are both well equipped to manage, able to do household chores (after much training in their formative years!), and both good cooks; but I still get the occasional phone call looking for suggestions for dinner ideas. This tomato sauce is a killer recipe to have in the repertoire, because it works well on its own, but also can be the base for many delicious variations by adding other ingredients. It’s also inexpensive and can feed a hungry horde when tossed through some pasta and served with green salad and crunchy garlic bread.
750 g ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
With a sharp knife make two shallow cuts in one end of the tomatoes, making a cross. Put the tomatoes into a medium sized, heatproof bowl. Boil a jug of water and then pour over the tomatoes. Leave for 1 minute, and then take them out of the water, and peel away the skin, beginning from the cuts. It should slip off very easily. Chop the tomatoes roughly and add to a medium sized sauce pan with all the other ingredients, except the balsamic vinegar, and then add a good grind of black pepper. Bring to the boil over medium heat on the stove, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until thick and a bright red. Use a fork to fish out the thyme stalks and discard them. Add about 1 teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar and stir through. Serve with pasta, and shaved parmesan on top. This amount of sauce will accommodate 500 g pasta, in the Italian way, that is, a slick coating, not lots and lots of sauce.
Here’s a few variations that I recommend: (other suggestions most welcome)
- add a handful of chopped smoked olives, a few capers and some freshly chopped red chilli
- pan fry a diced onion and a couple of pieces of prosciutto or bacon and add to the sauce
- just before serving stir through half a cup of shredded fresh basil leaves
- cook a bit longer until very thick and then use as a sauce for pizza