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Tasty tomatoes

This week, it's all about tomatoes, an excellent food that contains lycopene one of the most powerful antioxidants. My tomato sauce can be used for a soup, a Bolognese and a meatball sandwich.

Making your own sauce from scratch makes a huge difference to the flavour of your meals. A great tomato sauce can have so many other uses too. It can be used as a pizza sauce or you can pour some on chicken or baked white fish.

Master Recipe: Tomato Soup/sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

>3lbs ripe tomatoes, cut in half

>8 tbsp olive oil

>Salt and black pepper

>3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

>1½ tsp dried rosemary

>1 tsp dried thyme

>1½ litres chicken stock

>½tsp dried crushed chilli flakes

>Small handful torn basil leaves

>Crusty bread, to serve

Method for soup:

>Preheat the oven to 200°C

>Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on a large baking tray.

>Drizzle 5 tbsp of the olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 1 hour until the tomatoes are tender.

>Put the tomatoes and any accumulated juices into a food processor or blender and blitz in 3-second pulses to achieve a chunky texture. If you want it smooth, blitz for about 30 seconds.

>Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and sauté for about 30 seconds, stirring until fragrant and the garlic is golden.

>Pour the tomatoes on to the garlic in the pan and add the chicken stock and crushed chilli flakes. Bring to the boil and then reduce to simmer for about 25 minutes.

>Remove from heat, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread.

Method for the tomato sauce:

Simmer the soup for another 20 minutes or until it reaches a desired thickness.

Herbed meatballs

Serves 4

Ingredients

>½ cup breadcrumbs

>1 tbsp chopped parsley

>1 tbsp fresh thyme

>1 tbsp ketchup

>1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (some extra for garnish)

>1 tsp salt and pepper

>250g ground beef

>250g Italian sausage meat (remove from casing)

>200ml tomato sauce

Method:

> Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands until all are well combined.

>Stop at this step if you want to make the rigatoni Bolognese

>Mold ingredients with your hands into 1-inch size meatballs.

>Set aside on a tray.

>Heat a saucepan with 2 tbsp olive oil and cook meatballs in batches, 2 minutes each side until brown.

>Add all the meatballs when cooked into sauce, leave on a low simmer.

> Serve in a baguette with garnish.

Rigatoni Bolognese

Serves 4

Ingredients

>200ml tomato sauce (recipe 1)

>100g Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

> 1 herbed meatball mix (recipe 2), not rolled into balls

> 500g Rigatoni pasta

Method:

> In a saucepan, heat the sauce over a low heat.

>In a separate pan, cook the meatball mixture.

>Wait for about 10-15 minutes until cooked through.

>Scoop the meat into sauce and keep warm on a low temperature while the pasta is cooking.

>Boil pasta until al dente, about 10-12 minutes.

>Place pasta on the centre of a white plate and top with meat sauce.

>Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and then serve.


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