Saturday, 21 August 2010

Elasti-cooking | Slow cooker pasta sauce

I wanted to include some recipes here on the blog. Mainly because as with all the other areas of my life I am horribly disorganised. I tend to lose scribbled on bits of paper with much-used recipes written on so a back-up is always handy. Sometimes I don't even include the recipe title and have to guess what it is from the ingredients!

This recipe however I have been making for so long that it's almost automatic. It started based on a recipe I found on the Nigella site but for some reason I can't get it to load for me anymore. Probably a good job I know what I'm doing for a change. It makes enough to freeze in portions for about 6 (cheap!) family dinners for us (2 adults, 2 children and a toddler.) It's very reassuring to know there is always some there and pasta in the cupboard to make a very quick meal for the children if they are threatening to implode if I don't feed them within the next 10 minutes. The sauce is full of vegetable goodness and once it's blended up they needn't know it's there.

Slow-cooked Tomato Pasta Sauce
6-8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 onions, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 courgettes, sliced
2 peppers (red, orange or yellow), chopped
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2x 500ml cartons passata
0.5 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
Large handful fresh basil

This makes a lot so you will need a big pan and a large slow cooker. Mine is said to hold 5.7 litres as a guide, you can see on the pic it comes almost to the top. It is of the type that you can use on the hob then transfer to the slow cooker which saves a bit of time and washing up. You don't have to be too tidy with the vegetable chopping, the cooking time is long and it will all get done in the end. However the smaller they are the quicker the first stage will be.

Warm your olive oil in the pan and add all the raw vegetables in one go. Coat with the oil and place the lid on for them to sweat for a short while, stirring occasionally. After about 15 minutes the vegetables will have released some juices and gone a bit soft around the edges. Then is the time to add the tinned tomatoes. Heat them through and add the passata and the dried herbs keeping on a low heat. Once it starts to simmer you can transfer it all to your slow cooker and heat on low for about 6 hours. My low setting is not actually that low so it's done in about 4.5. I add the fresh basil at the end and allow it to wilt before blending with a hand blender. I'm on my third one now, as all the ones I have seem incapable of surviving past their guarantee.

So that's it for my first recipe! Nice and simple. I hope to share more soon though I must warn you that we are a vegetarian family so you'll have to look elsewhere for your meaty recipes. Not to say you couldn't go free and easy with a bit of pancetta or chorizo with some of these, totally up to you.

Ms C

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