Dad’s Pasta Sauce

Serves: 4

20 minutes prep
2.5 hours cooking time


  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 sticks of celery (diced)
  • 1 clove of garlic (finely grated)
  • 2 ripe, in season tomatoes (chopped) *can replace with a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1500 grams of tomato passata
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 1/4 tsp of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 bouillon cube, chicken or vegetable (dissolved in 125 ml of water)
  • 125ml of red or white wine (the alcohol cooks out in the sauce, but if you don’t want to use any, just substitute with a bit more stock!)
  • 50 grams of butter
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • Handful of fresh basil (torn up)

Using vegetable bouillon, the above will make a vegetarian sauce.

For vegan sauce, use vegetable bouillon, omit the butter, and use vegan wine or more stock/ water.

For meat sauce also add:

  • 1 or 2 bone-in pork chops (remove & save bone and cube meat)
  • 1/4 lb stewing veal- cubed. If you can’t find veal just add 2 cubes of beef bouillon

Sauce Time!

If using meat, brown on all sides over medium-high heat in a bit of olive oil. Then remove from pan and set aside.

In the same large saucepan, pour in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, add diced onions, celery, and a pinch of salt and soften over medium-low heat. Don’t be tempted to turn it up high! The onions will colour/burn instead of just turning soft, and translucent.

Once softened, add the garlic. Cook garlic for a minute or so and move continuously to avoid burning.

Add all remaining ingredients, including the browned meat and pork chop bones, and cook over low heat (so it’s lightly simmering,) partially covered with the pan’s lid, for 2.5 hours or until the sauce reaches a lovely rich consistency- stir occasionally. When it’s ready the olive oil will have come to the top of the pan and the water will have evaporated.

Take off the heat and add salt & pepper to taste, and that fresh basil.

Serve with your favourite pasta, and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese!

Time saving tips:
Make a double batch, and freeze the extra sauce! Freezes well and lasts up to a month for those days where you just can’t be bothered to cook but want to eat something delicious. I suggest cooking the sauce for about 10 minutes once defrosted to get rid of any excess water which may be present due to the freezing process.

Don’t have a free afternoon to make sauce for several hours? In the morning (or even do it the night before and just keep all the ingredients together in the fridge until the next morning) brown meat, and cooked the onions, celery and garlic, then add all the ingredients into slow cooker (crockpot.) Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8 hours and you’ll have fresh sauce ready for you when you get home from work. Boom!

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