Home Alone on a Friday Night
I’m back living at home, so I’m lucky enough to get my dinner cooked for me by my mummy, but occasionally I have to fend for myself. This means either getting an oven meal or something that takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and cook – for example stir fry is one of my favourites, quick and healthy. I can cook but I don’t have the patience to prepare a meal just for myself but prefer cooking with company other than the dogs and Magic FM (it would be Radio 1 but it sucks after 7pm unless you’re planning on spending the night clubbing in your kitchen).
So last night, I chose the fail-safe method of seeing what’s available in the cupboards/fridge and putting it together over pasta. This sauce was a stock meal I made when I lived in Edinburgh, when there wasn’t much money to spend on anything other than rent and bills.
When I make this sauce I don’t follow the list exactly, I just use as much as I feel like at the time. Sometimes I want more mushrooms, sometimes I want them thickly sliced, sometimes I can get away with garlic breath the next morning and sometimes I don’t have any herbs – I think you get the idea. As all great chefs say; a recipe is simply your guide to cooking.
I would say the following is plenty for 2 people (hungry boys will probably say 1 person):
- 1 tablespoon oil (I used olive)
- 1 onion (red or white)
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 mushrooms (any, I had chestnut ‘shrooms last night)
- 1/2 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
- Pinch of salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 200g tin of tomatoes
- 1 stock cube (vegetable/chicken/beef – depends how rich you want the sauce)
- Splash of red wine (optional)
- 3 drops tabasco (optional)
- 180g pasta (any variety)
Putting it together
- Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the chopped onions and let them fry gently until soft.
- Turn down the heat a little and add the finely chopped garlic. Mix around for a few minutes until soft.
- Add the mushrooms, cut however you like (I usually thinly slice, but if you blend the sauce at the end this doesn’t make a difference) and stir until they are softened and cooked.
- I add the ground black pepper and herbs at this point.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- While it is cooking, stir the stock cube into about 100 millilitres of boiling water. Use a vegetable cube if you want a lighter sauce or beef if you want it richer. After about 5 minutes add the stock and bring to a fast simmer to reduce the sauce.
- If you have some red wine, you can add a splash at this point along with the tabasco. Stir occasionally until it has thickened and resembles pasta sauce – I have no idea how long this takes, depends how fast you simmer/boil it.
- When it is nearly ready, cook the pasta according to the instructions.
- Taste the sauce and add salt as required.
- You can either blend the sauce or leave it chunky.
- Spoon the sauce over the pasta and stir in.
Tip: heat the bowls by draining the pasta over them in the sink and leave them to dry while you add the sauce to the pasta.
I think it took about 30 minutes to make this, so it wasn’t too dull and just in time for Eastenders.
What are your ideas for a quick and healthy meal? (No Ian, a plate of sausages does not constitute a meal!)