John and Lisa's Weekend Kitchen

Classic tomato sauce with easy bake dinner rolls

John and Lisa have a menu inspired by Italian cuisine in their Weekend Kitchen.

They start with a warming tomato sauce which can be used in many dishes - not least with their fresh pasta and garlicky bread rolls.

Next it’s chicken parmesan topped with Lisa’s cheat’s béchame sauce. Then another use for the tomato sauce - as a base for gorgeous ricotta-filled courgette spirals.

For dessert it’s a favourite of John's  - coffee panna cotta.

Classic tomato sauce with easy bake dinner rolls

Serves 10


Tomato sauce

1 onion, peeled and quartered

1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 stick of celery and roughly chopped

1 clove of garlic, peeled and bashed

2 tbsps olive oil

2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

300ml stock

200ml red wine

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 heaped tsp oregano

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp Marmite

A splash of Worcester sauce

Salt and pepper

Dinner rolls

325g strong bread flour

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 sachet of yeast

150ml milk, warm

50g unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed

1 large egg

1 damp tea towel

Egg wash, beaten with a splash of milk


Grated parmesan (alternatively vegetarian hard cheese or vegan cheese)

Your pasta of choice (ideally a long ‘noodle’ style pasta like fettuccine, spaghetti or tagliatelle)

Shop bought garlic butter for your dinner rolls


Dinner rolls

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan.

2. Add your flour to a mixer, and then stir in your salt. Add in the rest of your ingredients, mix until combined, and then knead for 8 - 10 minutes. You know your dough is ready when you can hear it slapping against the mixer’s bowl - once ready it should be soft and malleable.

3. Divide your ball of dough into 3 segments. and then each segment can be cut into 5 smaller pieces - you should now have 15 pieces of dough (weighing around 38 - 40g each) to shape into your perfectly round rolls. When making the dough balls you can use a damp tea towel to rest them in to prevent them from drying out. To roll them into perfect balls, throw each piece onto a dry surface and cup your hands to roll them - do not put any flour on your work surface as this will prevent them from forming into smooth balls.

4. Place your dough balls onto a lined baking tray, cover them with a tea towel and leave them to rest in a warm place for an hour until they have doubled in size. Brush your rolls with the egg wash and then bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden.

Tomato sauce

1. Put the onion, carrot, celery and garlic into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor then you can finely dice these four ingredients by hand instead. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the chopped vegetables, oregano and Marmite, a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, and then stir together and fry gently for 5 - 6 minutes until softened (this is called a sofrito, and will form the base of your sauce).

2. Stir in the tomato puree for a minute then add in your red wine to deglaze all of the wonderful flavour from the bottom of the pan. Finally, add in your tinned tomatoes and pour the stock into the empty cans and then add into the pan to ensure that all of your chopped tomatoes are used. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook gently for 15 - 20 minutes. Season to taste. The base sauce is now ready to use for a variety of recipes.

3. Cook your pasta of choice in a large pan of heavily salted boiling water until al dente. As that’s cooking, portion out enough tomato sauce to coat your into a large mixing bowl from your batch. Once your pasta is cooked, remove it from the pot using tongs into the bowl of freshly made tomato sauce. Don’t panic about any excess pasta water carried over into the bowl, this will help create a really glossy lovely sauce. Toss your pasta into the sauce, then serve in a bowl with a generous grating of parmesan., and will form the base of your sauce).

John and Lisa's Weekend Kitchen