Before we begin, I recommend using passata; you can use fresh plum tomatoes, but why bother when passata is easily available, and works perfectly? I use Cirio Smooth Passata because it’s inexpensive and tastes great. I don’t know how widely available it is outside Europe, though. You could also use tinned tomatoes but you'll have to reduce them down to get the right flavour, making them not nearly as economical as using passata.
Nutritional values per person:
(Please note that these are based on the ingredients I used - your own may be slightly different)
Makes just over a litre (four servings)
2 large white onion
8 large, fat cloves, garlic
2 tbsps good olive oil (don’t use really good extra virgin because it’s a waste to cook with it, save the really, really good stuff for finishing dishes with)
Oregano and thyme - about 1-2 tbsp of each if using fresh, about 1.5 tsp each if using dried
35g (approx.) fresh basil
A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
Freshly cracked black pepper - to taste
Sea salt - optional; I haven't included it in the nutritional content because you'll get salt from the pasta cooking water, so I don't feel the need to add more salt to the sauce - but you might
1. Make the sofritto: Peel and chop the onions and carrots, and fry them gently in the oil. Chop the celery and add it to the other vegetables.
2. Once the onions are becoming translucent, add the garlic and the oregano, parsley and thyme. If you add the garlic earlier, it will become bitter.
3. Continue to cook gently until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown.
4. Add the passata and bring to a gentle bubble - like this…
But less grey! :-)
5. Turn the heat down very low (it helps to have a diffuser, as this will keep the sugo from catching), stir in all the herbs, and leave to gently simmer for about 20 mins (or while you cook the pasta). Keep an eye on it because although you want it to reduce slightly, you don’t want it to dry out! Have a taste - it should be rich,
thick, herby and slightly sweet. Season with black pepper.
6. Finally, once your pasta is cooked, add a small ladleful of the pasta water, and beat it in. This brings the whole thing together, gives the sugo a slight gloss, adds seasoning (assuming you've salted the cooking water), and finishes it off nicely.
7. If you’re just having it with pasta, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top once it’s on the plate/in the dish (don’t forget to account for the cals etc.), and add a basil leaf or bit of flat leaf parsley. Perfetto!
If having with pasta, allow 50g dry weight of pasta (e.g. spaghetti) per person. This adds another173 cals, making the entire meal only334 cals.