Tag Archives: Healthy

Tomato and Balsamic Vinegar Sauce

As much as I revere convenience in all its forms, I don’t understand shop bought tomato pasta sauces. I will admit to having lived off these for years, but when I started creating my own, the jars became such an unbearable let down. Expensive, dull and packed full of salt.

The sheer simplicity of tomato sauce creation is not beyond anyone – it is practically impossible to get wrong.

(Apart from that time I fancied myself quite the Michelin chef and, in a seasoning fervour, over-oreganoed to the point of inedible – the beans on toast that night were particularly sour in my mouth.)

I serve this with garlic bread, homemade, with real butter – the pasty, soggy rolls from the supermarket don’t even come close.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 tin chopped tomatoes with basil
1 large red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 or 2 red chilli
2 dessert spoons tomato purée
2 or 3 dessert spoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons pepper
Salt to taste

Garlic bread
3 cloves garlic
100g butter
Bread rolls

Fresh pasta (much better than dried)
Cheese

Steps to deliciousness

1) Chop the red onion finely and fry gently in real butter until soft. (Or, if making vegan, use olive oil)

2) Add all the other ingredients. See, I told you this was simple.

3) Bring to boil, and turn down heat to low. Let this cook away until the sauce has reduced by a third.

4) While it’s simmering, mash about 100g butter with the 3 other cloves of garlic, chopped really finely, and spread this generously onto the bread rolls. (Again, if cooking vegan, use olive oil)

5) Wrap in little packets of tin foil, and put into the oven at 200 degrees. They’ll take about 20 minutes. Open the packet and let the edges crisp up for a few minutes.

6) This is when my favourite part happens – taste your sauce. Think about the flavours, now that they’ve intensified, and how you can improve them. Generally, I add a little more balsamic and pepper. There’s no point in following a recipe word for word when everyone’s palate is different. I love black pepper – it makes up about a quarter of every dish I make – and I drink balsamic vinegar from the bottle at any given opportunity. You may love chilli or salt – I don’t know, I am not you – but be flexible and adapt the recipe to your needs.

7) Dump the cooked pasta into the pan, mix, and serve with cheese.

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Vegetarian Jalfrezi

When I want my entire apartment to smell mouth-wateringly good, I cook Indian food. Or, more specifically, jalfrezi. The time spent making this dish is so worth it, as it has a gorgeous balance between the spices, chilli and citrus.

You can cook this with chicken – replace the vegetable stock with chicken stock, and the chickpeas with 400g of chicken – but it tastes much better without it.

Ingredients (serves 4)

625g chickpeas (Big tin and a little tin)
Vegetable oil

6 cardamom pods (ground with mortar and pestle)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon medium curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric

3 large peppers
1.5 large onions
2 large chilli
4 garlic cloves (mashed)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
1 small tin tomato purée
6cm ginger (grated)
1/2 vegetable stock cubes

1 lime
Half a lemon

Naan/rice/cous cous

Steps to deliciousness

1. Toss the chickpeas in a little vegetable oil and bake at 200 degrees for a half hour/40 minutes, until they’re crunchy.

2. Heat the spices in six dessert spoons of vegetable oil, but don’t let them burn.

3. Chop the onions and peppers into large pieces, and add the onion to the spices to soften.

4. Add the peppers, garlic and chilli, and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat.

5. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato purée and ginger, with a tin of hot water and a stock cube – taste for saltiness. Generally, I use 1.5 stock cubes.

6. Simmer for about a half hour, until the peppers are soft and the sauce has thickened. You may need to add another half tin of water if it gets too thick and the peppers aren’t soft.

7. Remove from the heat and add the juice of a lime and half a lemon.

8. Serve with something nice – Tesco finest garlic and coriander naans are fantastic.

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