4 Meals - 1 Sauce - Back to School!


Back to school is a busy time and this can often result in poor diets or ready-made convenience meals that most likely don't stack up Nutritionally. Needless to say, we're all still looking for a tasty meal that is quick, easy and can even be prepared ahead. Today I am going to show you how to turn 1 base sauce into the 3 delicious meals that are nutritious and can be prepared ahead of time.

The base sauce is a meat sauce or tomato based sauce known as a meat ragu in Italy. With this sauce there are no specific measurements. it's a little bit what you like and what you have in the kitchen at the time. A little like the way coddle was a fridge clearer the day before you did the shopping years ago. ( MMMMM we should do a recipe for coddle soon, boiled sausages optional) I'm not going to give you specific amounts here because you might choose to make a lot and you might choose to make a little, so here goes 

  • Diced up carrot, onion and celery equal quantities is fine (approx. 2-3 whole/stalks of each. If you have peppers use them aswell or even parsnips or swede)
  • Minced Garlic (as much as you like, don't worry you can never put too much in)
  • Mince Beef (Pork also works) 500-750g is fine
  • Bay leafs and thyme*
  • Tomato Passata - approx 4 tins 3 works and so does 5
  • Tomato Puree (1 TBSP will suffice or 2 won't hurt it)**
  • Good stock (Knorr rich beef stock cubes are great and easy here, but homemade is great too if you have the patience)
  • Salt Pepper & Honey to taste***
  • Approx. 2-300ml of water
  • 2 TBSP of Olive oil and if you want to be extra bold throw in a knob of butter mmmMMMMMM
  • A splash of red wine if you have it (Me I prefer to just drink it J)
* I have learned that the way to make a sauce taste really good is fresh thyme and bay leafs. 2-3 bay leafs and a good sprig of thyme will make any sauce taste like the professionals. 
** Remember food is about feeling the food and tasting along the way. If you are unsure when following the process have a taste and follow your instinct. If in doubt decide whilst you sip a glass of wine! 
*** Anything with tinned tomatoes always needs a little sweetness to balance the acidity they bring to the dish 
The Method
  1. In a large pot heat the oil and butter if using on high and brown off the beef and I mean brown it until the meat starts to pop but not burn. It takes approx. 10-14 mins in a large heavy base pan but delivers on the flavor - Of this I promise.
  2. Next add the diced Carrot, Onion and Celery and peppers or any other diced veg your using.
  3. Saute off until slightly coloured.
  4. Now add the garlic and tomato puree and cook out for approx. 2 mins still on a high heat.
  5. Deglaze with the wine E.G. lash the wine in and stir so that any of the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan dissolve into the wine.
  6. Now add all of the other ingredients except the seasoning, stir and cook for approx. 30mins on medium heat.
  7. Now seasoning, have a taste and add little by little until your happy.
Now, 4 different meals with one sauce 
Spaghetti Bolognaise simply boil some pasta and serve with a good ladel of sauce, Best served with whatever wine you have available. The only stipulation is that it's a wine you enjoy J 
Mousakka, add some cumin to the sauce and layer with sliced grilled aubergines in an oven proof dish and top with a mix of feta and cheddar and bake for 40 mins at 180 Degrees C 
Chilli Con Carne, add some chilli powder/sauce and a touch of vinegar along with a can of red kidney beans and serve with boiled rice. Its also great with a spoon of crème fraiche on top and a sprinkle or fresh coriander 
Lasagne, Layer with sheets of pasta and sauce and then top with cheese and an optional white sauce (I prefer just cheese as it's healthier and bake for the same time as the mousakka) 
That's 4 dishes right there! Let us know how you get on, happy cooking, happy Sipping and enjoy the dishes. 
Ian - WineOnline Foodie 


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