It is still cold… Pasta awaits. “Spag Bol” awaits. Fish in tomato sauce awaits. Roasted veggies in tomato sauce awaits. We all want a bit of warmth and a bit of that feeling of eating something to make us warm. Something tasty. Something that satisfies inside when all is cold outside.
Just as well then that the Herb of the Month is SAGE. Which is PERFECT with tomato sauce because it ‘adds depth’. Whenever anyone says something ‘adds depth’ of flavour, I rarely know what they mean by it! Here is what I mean. It is a taste which makes you want to eat more, lick your lips forever, and eat more again! Perfect for that warmth inside when it is cold outside.
This month, therefore, we are going to make a tomato sauce which you can put with anything. And you can use ingredients in your sauce that you happen to have lying about (most likely) so I have given you plenty of alternatives…
What do you need?
Tomatoes… Now, unless you are living The Good Life somewhere hot right now, you are unlikely to have fresh tomatoes… If you are lucky enough to be near a Farmers’ Market where the farmer has a lovely heated polytunnel and can provide you with some, go for it. Otherwise, avoid the ones flown in from Lord Knows Where… You may have some frozen from last year of course? Or bottled? For this recipe, I chose a combination of tinned tomatoes and tomato soup! It is what I had… You can do the same. You will need about a pint of liquid, however it is made up.
Sage – our hero of the sauce. Choose the flavour Sage that you prefer. Go easy to start with. Use about 6 leaves until you know how much you like. It is a strong herb…
And then your choice of other ingredients: I have gone for: a tin of tuna; some kidney beans; and some coconut milk! The coconut milk was included in my 1 pint of liquid. You might like to add mince (for a spaghetti bolognese), or garlic (not everybody likes it though), or just add nothing and leave it as a sauce for later with, say, a nice thick fish or poured over some mashed spaghetti squash.
How do you make it?
Chop your onions and your sage. Gently ‘sweat’ your onions in oil in a pan. Keep them moving so they do not burn. Then add your Sage (keep your Sage moving too. Do not let it burn.)
Then add your liquid. Add your other ingredients (so here I added my beans and my tuna). Heat it all up until it begins to bubble fairly ferociously! Then… turn it down and let it simmer gently.
How long for? That depends what you have put in it. If you have added meat (eg mince) make sure that is cooked through. The idea of this sauce is that it slowly bubbles away, filling your home with wonderful tempting aromas! Some people like their tomato sauce quite ‘runny’, others like it nice and thick. The longer it cooks, the more it will evaporate and become thicker. Up to you.
Did you know:
There are over 500 different flavours of Sage. And Sage must always be planted by a stranger and always planted alongside other herbs. And it will only grow where there is a dominant woman! A little like Rosemary – the size of the Rosemary bush reflects the power of the woman of the house.
My question for you
You have seen that I added a tin of coconut milk. What is YOUR favourite ingredient in your version of a tomato sauce?
Where can you find Hawkwell Herbs this month?
Saturday 2nd February – Thrapston Farmers’ Market
Sunday 3rd February – Olney Farmers’ Market
Saturday 9th February – Oundle Farmers’ Market
Saturday 23rd February – Ely Farmers’ Market.
PLUS Sara delivers herbs in ‘HerbBella the Van’ to Loyalty Card customers on Mondays and Fridays to keep everybody topped up in between markets.
And if you are on Twitter
Sara will be ‘taking over’ the @smallholdersUK account for a week from Monday 4th February. Learn all about the life of the Herbs, how they are grown, how they can be used in cooking and, generally, about the life of a herb grower from Sudborough!
Herb of the month for February
Sage – 5 different flavours – from the strong and punchy – the sweet and comparatively mild. As always, a Cooking Ideas booklet comes with each herb. All available at the Farmers’ Markets.