Recipe: Lockdown Tomato Sauce

In light of us all staying home at the moment, I wanted to open up the pantry and get the party started with some riffs on recipes that you can create with what you have in the kitchen, or could easily source from your LOCAL cornershop.

I make a double or triple batch of this once a week, and use it as a base for so many dishes. Brown your mince first, and use it to fast track lasagne al forno, or stir through a dollop of harissa and mix in some leftover roast chicken for an insane taco filling, or even reduce it down to a jammy consistency and use it as a base for homemade pizzas or wraps.

Let’s talk about tomatoes. Why am I using tinned? Surely fresh are better? If you live in Spain or Italy, yes by all means fill your boots but here in the UK, outside of the summer months, our tomato selection is pretty rough. This recipe is such a winner because the tinned counterparts add a real depth of flavour, if you don’t have manage to unearth the San Marzanos, try and use any whole tinned tomatoes.


Makes 500ml (or more, it depends how much you reduce it)


60ml EVOO (EVOO=extra virgin olive oil or 40g butter)

2 big banana shallots, finely diced (or red/brown onions)

2 garlic cloves, crushed (see my IGTV video)

150ml red wine, plus a glass for yourself

2 x400g tins San Marzano tomatoes

2T Tomato puree (or ketchup if you’re stuck)

2t dried oregano

1 bay leaf

2T balsamic vinegar of Modena (or 1T golden caster sugar)



can opener, medium pan, hand blender



  1. Set a medium pan on a moderate heat and let it warm up. Add the EVOO and shallots, stir and season with salt, then sweat until almost translucent. A lid helps and keep an eye on the heat throughout, an occasional stir isn’t going to hurt anyone. This will take around 10 minutes, use the time to prep your other ingredients if you’ve not done so
  2. When the shallots are softened, crank up the heat, add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring. Add the wine and reduce by ¾
  3. Stir in the tomato puree and mix through. Tip in the tinned tomatoes, and rinse the cans with water to avoid any wastage. Add your herbs and aromatics too; whatever you have really, just remember to remove before blitzing
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes (or longer, if you have time)
  5. Remove the aromatics, stir in the balsamic and whizz with a hand blender. It’s pleasant to have a bit of texture through the sauce, but it is up to you (see cook’s notes)
  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Serving suggestions below


  • Use the best possible balsamic your money can buy, and above all else make sure it’s from Modena
  • Enjoy this with wholegrain pasta for a quick but wholesome lunch. Or if it’s date night, melt 100g butter in a wide pan and swirl around. When it starts to foam and smell like digestive biscuits, stir in a few handfuls of breadcrumbs with fresh herbs if you have them, and season. Serve big bowls of pasta with the crumb topping
  • This will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Spoon into reusable containers (one portion is around 150ml) and freeze when it has cooled. Enjoy within 4 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge and warm through in a small pot before serving
  • Pasta sauce, pizza base, the beginnings of a lasagne… the list goes on. Is there anything this sauce can’t do?

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