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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Recipe: Spaghetti with Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce and Ham Bits

This makes a Perfect Sunday Merienda.

As a working mom, I am always on the lookout for easy to prepare recipes. I feel happier if I come across easy to prepare and delicious recipes.

We have a helper at home who is tasked to cook for our little family of 3. But most days, I really prefer to cook our meals by myself. Cooking is a great therapy for me, a respite from all the typing and reading and all-that-boring-stuff-office-people-do kind of thing.

I am a pasta fanatic. Although I have been desperately trying to cut down on carbs recently, I would often choose a pasta meal on my cheat days. A pasta recipe is always easy to whip out. Actually, it was after learning to cook pasta al-dente that I fell in love with cooking. The rest is history, as the cliche goes.

In my side of the family, we've always preferred to prepare homemade tomato sauce for tomato-based dishes. Through the years, we've finally learned how to make the perfectly easy yet tasty homemade tomato sauce. So if you like tomato-based pasta, let me share with you my version which was a recent hit with my co-workers. Their admiration of my home cooking inspired me (and gave me the confidence as well) to share the recipe in this blog.

Fast and Easy Tomato-Basil Sauce

You will need:

1.5 kilos of fresh tomatoes
¼ cup of olive oil
1 medium size red onion (1 large if white)
1 head garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
A pinch of pepper
1 small pouch of tomato paste
1 cup fresh basil or
1 teaspoon dried basil
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Simmering Tomato Sauce
  • Wash the ripe tomatoes properly.
  • Make a small cross on the bottom of your tomatoes (this trick is just to make it easy for you to peel off the skin later)
  • Blanch the tomatoes, drain and put in ice bath or run through cold water. Peel the skin off.
  • Chop the tomatoes. Make sure to save the juice as well. You can take out the seeds if you want (but I leave them since seeding takes so much time). Add about a teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper. Mix then leave overnight in the fridge.
  • Saute chopped red onion in olive oil  until translucent . Add minced garlic. Do not brown the garlic to retain taste. 
  • Add Tomato Paste (I used 2/3 of a small pouch on 1.5kilos of fresh tomatoes)
  • Add the chopped tomatoes (including the juice), stir and simmer for 5-10 mins. (I personally like to have tomatoes chunks on my sauce so I just simmer for 5mins). Add a cup of fresh basil or a teaspoon if you’re using dried.
  • Transfer to blender or food processor and puree. Sauce is good for 1 kilo of cooked pasta (best to use is angel hair/spaghetti pasta). Top with sauteed mushroom-ham and Parmesan cheese. 
This recipe can feed 10 hungry adult stomachs.

To make the mushroom-ham/bacon topping:

You will need:

1 big can of button mushroom (pieces and stem), chopped coarsely
1 med white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pack sweet ham/or whatever cold cuts you prefer/bacon bits
1 tsps olive oil or bacon fat if you use bacon instead of cold cuts (if you use bacon, cook it ahead so the fat is rendered)
1 tsp butter


  • Sauté onion and garlic till translucent over olive oil and butter. 
  • Add chopped mushroom and cold cuts/bacon bits.  
  • Top over tossed tomato sauce and spaghetti.

It's super easy and you can store the topping and the sauce separately. You can also opt to store the sauce on a sterilized jar for future use. You can probably store it for a week in the fridge or you can opt to freeze it for longer shelf-life and just thaw it in the microwave if you already intend to use it.

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