Friday, 17 July 2015


Pasta smothered in a tomato sauce! Why that's one of our favorites over at MattyB Bakes towers. Sometimes when you don't want the heaviness of a bolognase or a lasagne, a chili, garlic and basil flavored tomato based sauce with a few mushrooms and little sweet peppers topped with soft and stringy mozzarella is all you need. The best part of a pasta sauce though is that you can knock one up in less than 30 minutes. Perfect for busy folk or when it's a day when you just need something no frills and delicious.

So my basics for the sauce are the onions, garlic and chili. It's not a pasta sauce without these three (and the tomatoes of course!). My addition of mushrooms and sweet pepper pearls is to give the sauce a bit of oomph so feel free to throw in extra veg or swap these too out for something you enjoy more, just make sure it's a veg that will cook quickly as the sauce is only on the heat for a short amount of time.

I will mention the sweet pepper pearls though. This was the first time I'd used them and they were a delight. Like little balls of fresh zing, you can throw them in whole and they add an extra bit of crunch and sweetness to your sauce. They are not that easy to get a hold of though so do not stress if you can't find them you can always chop up some whole red peppers instead to retain that bite to sauce.

Another simple way to add more flavor to a sauce with the most minimal amount of faff is by getting a tin of chopped tomatoes that already has added herbs, garlic or olive oil such as the tin I used. Yes, its a bit of a cheat but when one is a rush to eat then who really cares. Anyway even if your using a plain tin of chopped tomatoes the garlic, chili and herbs already in the sauce will still add flavor and you can always add a smidge more of any of these to the sauce once you've seasoned the sauce if you feel like it needs a little extra.

Mozzarella is my favorite cheese in a sauce. When it goes all gooey it's to die for. If you can't find pearls just cut up a ball into little chunks instead or if your not a fan you can always grate something like a Parmesan over the top at the end just to add that finishing touch. An extra sprinkling of oregano at the end if you have any left will also make the sauce pop. 

Lets get too it. To cook the sauce I have used my paella pan. Why? Because it's wide and quite shallow and by increasing the surface area of sauce to hob it will take less time to cook. Use the widest pan you have but make sure that the sauce can at least cover the base of the pan. If you see any gaps in the pan is too big. If you are using a smaller, deep pan you just need to increase the cooking time by a few minutes just to compensate.

Pasta Sauce

2 Chopped Red Onions
1 Grated Clove Of Garlic
1 Chopped Green Chili
Handful Chopped Mushrooms
50g Sweet Pepper Pearls
400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tbsp Tomato Puree 
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
Salt And Pepper To Season
150g Mozzarella Pearls

  1. In a lightly oiled wide pan on a medium/high heat add in the onions, garlic and chili and fry until the onions begin to soften before adding in the mushrooms and throw them in until they also soften slightly.
  2. Throw in the peppers, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and basil, season with the salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir and level the sauce out in the pan. 
  3. Bring to a boil and then reduce down to a simmer immediately and leave for 5 minutes to thicken. If the sauce gets too dry and begins to stick to the pan add a tbsp of water and stir to loosen the sauce.
  4. Once reduced, plonk in the mozzarella balls evenly across the sauce and then cover the pan with foil and leave for another 3-4 minutes until the mozzarella melts and goes gooey and soft.

Remove the pan from the heat and serve either with some cooked pasta of your choice or why not just take the pan over to the table with a big plate of crusty bread and just get everyone to tuck into your sauce. The sauce should be nice and thick and packed with those basil and garlic flavors followed by the spicy kick of the chili. Then, every now and then you'll get a big stringy piece of that chewy mozzarella which is just to die for. 

All that in less than 30 minutes. That truly is a pronto pasta sauce.

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