Monday 16 July 2018

Want healthier sauces? Then make your own

Dolmio has said its sugar-laden sauces should only be eaten once a week. But you can whip up more nourishing versions at home with these five simple recipes.

Recipe for success: Katy McGuinness prepares her homemade sauces Photo: Fergal Phillips.
Recipe for success: Katy McGuinness prepares her homemade sauces Photo: Fergal Phillips.

Katy McGuinness

The announcement by Mars that it was recommending that some of its Dolmio sauces be viewed as an occasional treat to be eaten no more than once a week may have surprised some, but even a cursory look at the labels on many of the products on the supermarket shelves reveals a staggeringly long list of ingredients that goes into making an ostensibly simple sauce and worrying amounts of sugar and salt.

Go back to basics and cook from scratch and you're immediately cutting out all the additives and preservatives used in mass production of food, and you're the one in charge of how much sugar, salt and fat is in your food.

Of course, packets and jars are convenient, but these homemade versions of some of the most commonly purchased commercial sauces and condiments are the work, if not of minutes then, of not very long - and they are infinitely more nourishing.

Here are some to try yourself at home.



2 x 400g tins whole tomatoes - the better the quality, the better the flavour

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

120ml apple cider vinegar

maple syrup or stevia to taste


Purée the tomatoes with their juice in a blender until smooth. Cook the onion and garlic in the oil with the salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the spices and black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute. Add the tomato purée, tomato paste, and vinegar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until very thick, 45 to 55 minutes, stirring more frequently toward end of cooking to prevent the ketchup from burning. Allow to cool a little and add your preferred sweetener to taste. Puree the ketchup until smooth and chill for two hours to allow the flavours to develop. This will keep for a month in the fridge.

Heinz Tomato Ketchup contains 3.4g of sugar per serving. A serving is 15g - about a tablespoon. Whoever has just a tablespoon of ketchup? Our recipe puts you in charge of what you want to use to sweeten your ketchup, and just how sweet you want it to be

Curry sauce

This is a mild, totally inauthentic curry sauce that mimics the version served in chippers across the nation. Serve it over homemade oven chips for a not-wholly-bad-for-you 'fakeaway', or use with left over roast chicken for a mild curry that even young children will enjoy.

Serves 2


1tbsp oil

onion, finely diced

1 apple, peeled and finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

tsp curry powder

1tbsp plain flour

150 ml stock (use home-made or low-salt for preference)

salt and black pepper


Heat the oil in a deep frying pan, and add the onion, apple and garlic. Cook over a low heat for 5-10 minutes, until softened. Add the curry powder and flour, and mix well. Then pour over the stock and add salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the mixture is thick. Blend until smooth.

Knorr's Mild Curry Sauce has 16g of sugar - that's 4 teaspoons - and 2g of salt per portion, which is 33pc of an adult's daily salt requirement

White sauce

A basic white sauce to which you can add cheese or freshly grated nutmeg for a lasagne.

Serves 6


50g butter

50g flour

480ml milk


Warm the milk and set to one side. Put the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and melt it, but do not let it brown. Add the flour and stir it into the butter, and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let it colour. Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk, and stir until combined.

Gradually add the rest of the milk, whisking constantly. Continue whisking until the sauce is thickened.

For an even easier cheesy white sauce that's ideal for lasagne, combine 500 ml crème fraiche, 3 finely chopped anchovies, and 2 handfuls of grated Parmesan with a little milk to loosen it to the desired consistency.


A portion Of Dolmio's Creamy Sauce For Pasta contains 13pc of an adult's daily requirement of salt

Tomato and basil  sauce for pasta

A basic pasta sauce that's worth making in bulk and keeping in the freezer.

Serves 6


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 bunch basil, leaves only

salt and black pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook slowly until softened but not coloured. Add the tomatoes and the sugar, stir and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Add the basil leaves, blend and season to taste.

Dolmio's Original Tomato Sauce for lasagne contains 6.4g of sugar per 100g portion; that's a teaspoon-and-a-half per portion - ours has teaspoon between 6 portions.



2 egg yolks, free-range or organic

pinch salt

teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

175 ml groundnut oil

50 ml extra virgin olive oil


Put the egg yolks in a bowl with the salt, mustard, and vinegar. Combine the oils in a jug, and pour the oil drop by drop, very, very slowly into the bowl, using a whisk to incorporate each drop as you go. Keep going until all the oil has been absorbed into the egg mixture, taking care not too add too much oil at a time of the mayonnaise will curdle. Taste and add more salt or vinegar if required.

Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise contains: rapeseed oil (25pc), spirit vinegar, modified maize starch, sugar, salt, pasteurised free range egg yolk (1.5pc), cream powder, citrus fibres, preservative, thickeners, mustard flour, lemon juice concentrate, antioxidant, flavourings, colour. A long list.

Irish Independent

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