Generic Meat & Vegetable Sauce

This isn't a fixed meal by any means. The rough idea is that it contains meat, vegetables and tastes great on pasta. That's the idea anyway. Note that the optional ingredients will increase the portions. It's also easy to remove the meat from this and do a great vegetarian dish. Add and remove ingredients to give it variety, flavour and heat.

To serve 6-8 you require:
500g of lean beef mince or chicken
2 medium onions
3 mixed peppers
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 chillis (optional)
1-2 medium corgettes (optional)
1-2 aubergines (optional)
400g chickpeas (optional)
Assorted Beans (optional)
600-800g chopped tomatoes
1 large glass of red wine (optional) (simmer for longer)
Splash of balsamic vinegar (optional)
2 large tablespoons of tomato puree

Herbs/Spices - Fresh Basil leaves (or dry - 2tsp), Oregano (1tsp), Ground Nutmeg (1/3 tsp), Cayenne Pepper (optional - 1/3tsp), Black Pepper (pinch).

Fry the onions (medium diced) in a thin layer of olive oil on a medium heat. Add the garlic cloves, either thinly sliced or crushed. Once translucent, throw in the mixed peppers (cut into big chunks, 2cm squared of varying shapes) and any chillis. Add the basil, oregano and cayenne pepper now (preferably adding a little water to the spices first so they don't burn. Once that's done add any courgettes/aubergine.

Once all the vegetables are nearly cooked, throw on the meat to fry (or fry the meat in a separate frying pan in a little red wine and balsamic vinegar if it's beef). The juice it provides should keep everything sliding around in the pan nicely and not sticking. If chicken, cut into small chunks so it will cook easily. Once the meat is done add any chickpeas or beans and leave for a few minutes to allow it all to mix. Then add the chopped tomato and puree. You need enough tomato that there is plenty of liquid to simmer down but it will end up thick. Use the red wine as well and simmer for longer for extra flavour.

It should be left to simmer for around an hour and once it's pretty thick, add the nutmeg, black pepper and serve. Grate some parmesan onto the sauce and add a little balsamic vinegar to add a little extra flavour. Grating a nutmeg onto the sauce will also provide better flavour than ground nutmeg out of a jar.

I suggest serving this on some properly cooked (with salt, no oil and in lots of water) dried italian pasta with a little grated parmesan on top and maybe some garlic ciabatta.

This page was created by Phil Waring, Copyright 2003-2009

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