Pasta is like your good-natured friend who gets along well with practically everyone. It’s an easy dish to jazz up—just add the sauce of your choice and you’re all set!
Bacon Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: 8 slices regular bacon, chopped; 1 onion, finely chopped; 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced; 1 28 oz (796 ml) can of crushed tomatoes (or puree a can of whole tomatoes); 1 tbsp fresh thyme, rosemary or oregano (or 1 tsp of dried); and sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Place the chopped bacon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of water. Cook, stirring, until the water evaporates and the bacon begins to brown. Continue stirring, lowering the heat to medium, until the bacon is lightly crispy and browned.
2. Drain away most of the bacon fat, leaving behind enough to sauté the vegetables (leave bacon in pan).
3. Add the onion and garlic and cook until they soften and begin to brown. Pour in the tomatoes. Sprinkle in the herb of your choice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or so.
Quick Southern Italian Tomato Sauce
Ingredients: 3 c canned peeled tomatoes in their liquid; 4 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed; 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; 1/2 tsp salt; freshly ground pepper; and 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil or fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Drain the tomatoes in a strainer set over a medium bowl. Scoop out and discard any seeds from the tomatoes. Using your hands, a fork or a potato masher, crush the tomatoes well and place in a separate bowl; reserve their liquid for another use.
2. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, cook the garlic in the olive oil over moderate heat until golden. Add the tomatoes and salt; season with pepper. Stir in the basil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Discard the garlic. To make a smooth sauce, leave the garlic cloves in and pass the sauce through a food mill. 3. To make ahead, omit the basil, cover the sauce tightly and refrigerate for up to five days or freeze for up to three months. Before serving, stir in the basil and reheat gently.
Ingredients: 2 tbsp olive oil; 1 onion, chopped; 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 1 large eggplant (about 500 g), cut into 2-cm cubes; 2 400 g cans chopped tomatoes; 2 tsp caster sugar; 1/2 c (60 g) pitted green olives; 1/3 c (65 g) drained capers; and 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and gently cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until light golden. Increase heat to high, add eggplant and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes until golden, then add tomatoes, sugar and a little salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until the eggplant is cooked and sauce thickens. Stir in the olives, capers and parsley.
White Wine, Mushroom and Cream Sauce
Ingredients: 1 tray sliced mushrooms; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 2 tbsp butter; 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil; 1/4 c white wine; 1/2 c cream; and salt and pepper to taste
1. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté sliced mushrooms with 2 small minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
2. Add 1/4 cup white wine and cook until just evaporated. Stir in 1/2 cup cream and heat gently until thick. Season with salt and pepper. (Recipes and photos from www.foodandwine.com; www.fortysomething.ca; www.taste.com.au)