I will cook all Franklyn’s food fresh. and probably organic, were words I uttered once while ushering Steve (very patient hubby) past those (glorious) brightly coloured squidgy packets of baby food. Then Franklyn was born and life happened. Unfortunately my idealistic view of motherhood had a very quick slap in the face. When that miraculous thing happens, of having a baby, you dont miraculously turn into a perfect mum. Damn. When I left the hospital, very loved up with my beautiful baby in arms, I was still the very unorganised, chaotic, last minute, messy human being I went in as, albeit a mum to add to the list too hurrah! All the perfect things I was going to do remained in the how to books I read during pregnancy and I get through each day doing the best job I possibly can, which although is certainly not perfect, is a lot of fun.
I do try and cook fresh food for the little man, however I confess I have a wonderful cupboard full of those squidgy packets of food and when it all gets too much, my inspiration for inventive foods for a 10 month old wavers or were stuck on the M6 motorway and need to pull in to the services for a very tired, hungry boy they are my saviour! But, for those who, like me have spent many years believing homemade meant popping open a jar of Dolmio or relying on your sous chef Mr Llloyd Grossman who happily sits in your cupboard, here’s how you actually make tomato sauce. Its (nearly) just as easy as popping open a jar and this one has NO ADDED SALT, so perfect for little mouths.
Knob of Unsalted butter
1 garlic clove
Carton of tomatoes
Any veg that needs using, diced finely courgettes, carrots and mushrooms work really well
Some fresh basil
CHEATS TIP: yep, there’s even a cheat to save time. Check the frozen section of your supermarket, you can often get chopped onion or stew based veg which is very finely diced carrot, celery and onion. Perfect for little mouths, poor choppers (me) and for around the same price as fresh has all the goodness and wont go off in your fruit and veg bowl!
Put the unsalted butter on a low heat in the pan and add your onion, garlic and any veg. Let this really, really soften it will be key to a lovely thick sauce. Dont be tempted to whack up the heat. The garlic will burn.
Add the carton of tomatoes, stir and leave to cook down into a lovely thick consistency. You can add some freshly chopped basil toward the end.
If using for babies/young children serve with some very well cooked pasta. It can also be a great base for ratatouille, served with very soft rice and fish.
That’s it. I’m not sure that even constitutes being a recipe, but if Ive helped just one lost mum or dad who have a sudden anxiety over salt content and dont know where to start when cooking from scratch, then Im happy. This will actually give you time to bask in your newly found virtuous parenting ways but not for long, a nappy will need changing very soon.
P.S. here’s Sam’s recipe too!
Tomato Sauce – or Ragu as the Italians call it – is a staple part of my recipe repertoire. You can add meat or extra veggies, serve it with pasta, rice or a jacket potato. It even works well as a base for family favourites like lasagna and chilli con carne.
So how do I make my tomato sauce so easily? Here’s my method (note: there’s no need to get specific with weighing out the size of tomatoes or garlic cloves, just use more of the ingredients you enjoy!).
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes (the riper the better), chopped
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 garlic clove, chopped into teeny tiny pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
Dash of olive oil
Optional: dash of balsamic vinegar or pinch of brown sugar
Heat the chopped garlic in olive oil (you can use butter if preferred) until softened.
Add in the onion and cook until clear. Don’t have the heat too high to avoid burning the garlic and onions.
Add in the herbs, fresh tomatoes and tomato puree and mix together.
Add the tinned tomatoes and mix.
Once the tomatoes start to bubble, turn down to a simmer and leave (uncovered is fine).
The longer you simmer the tomato sauce, the nicer it will become. If I’m short of time, I like to add in a dash of balsamic vinegar or brown sugar to help take the edge off the tinned tomatoes. Red wine works well too, plus it’s a good excuse to pour yourself a little celebratory glass!
Enjoy and happy cooking! xx