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My Culinary Adventures #1: Basic Tomato Sauce

If you’re travelling from hostel kitchen to hostel kitchen then I am well aware you will probably be using sauce from a jar when you make any kind of sauce based dish. It’ll be cheaper, quicker and just plain easier.

However, I am trying to learn to cook and this gives me something to write about. My upcoming recipe posts may therefore be pretty useless if you’re looking for the cheapest and easiest recipes but if you want to get a bit more creative or just like cooking then these are my recipes that take a little bit more time and attention but that can still be made by an amateur (i.e. me) on a budget. Alternatively, maybe you’re working abroad, have access to a decent kitchen and don’t have to worry about moving your food from place to place.

I’ve found that a tomato sauce is a good place to start. It’s easy and makes me feel slightly prouder/smug about my simple pasta dinner.
Ingredients – 2 servings

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Pinch of mixed herbs
  • Ground black pepper
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 mug vegetable stock (I like to use Knorr stock cubes)
  • Ketchup
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste

I used this to make enough for 3 people, so you can either make this for a group or pop the rest in the fridge and save it for later if you’re cooking for 1. Or, you know, just use less!


  1. Finely chop the onions and then begin to fry them in some vegetable oil on a medium heat.
  2. Crush the garlic cloves and add them to the pan. Fry until the onions start to become clear.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir so that the onions and garlic are coated.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes tomatoes, vegetable stock, a big pinch of mixed herbs, several grinds of black pepper and a couple of good squirts of ketchup and stir it all together.
  5. Leave the pan to simmer on a low heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring at regular intervals, until it has reduced down so that it is no longer too watery.
  6. Taste test it as you go – sometimes I end up adding a bit more ketchup to get it a bit sweeter.

Tips for serving After frying the onions, I added in a couple of handfuls of sliced mushrooms and the majority of a red pepper, again sliced. Once they had cooked and softened, I threw in some meatballs which I had cooked in the oven (fresh out of a pack) to make some kind of meatball ragu. Dinner was served.

IMG_6605 How to use the leftovers: Don’t forget, any leftover red pepper, mushrooms and onions can go in stir fry, curry, enchiladas or fajitas.



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