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Michela Chiappa's speedy tomato sauce 🍅

From pasta to pizza, at the base of many delicious meals is a terrific tomato sauce, and today Michela’s was in the kitchen with the quickest and simplest version you’ll ever make.

Costing just a fraction of the shop-bought equivalent, you'll wonder why you ever bought it in a jar! 

Classic tomato sauce

Serves 4


1 tbsp olive oil

1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 x 400g tins good-quality chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp caster sugar

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 organic vegetable stock cube

Optional: fresh basil leaves, to serve 


Optional spinach and olive tomato sauce (take the base as above):

A handful black olives, de-stoned

20g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve

2 x 100g balls buffalo mozzarella

235g baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry

Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle


Other optional additions could be:

Tinned tuna, chorizo, chilli flakes, sweetcorn

Gorgonzola, Stilton, mozzarella cheese

Blitzed kale in a food processor, to sprinkle over the top


1) Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion for about 4 minutes, until soft and translucent. 

2) Add the garlic to the onion and cook for 30 seconds, be careful not to let it burn. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, cayenne pepper and stock cube. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. 

3) While the sauce is reducing, cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper and serve over the cooked pasta, scattered with torn basil leaves. Alternatively, use the sauce with parmigiana. 

4) To make the version with spinach and olives, simply add the olives to this base, simmer for a further 2-3 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle over Parmesan and torn pieces of mozzarella. Scatter over the spinach. Enjoy with cooked pasta. Finish with more Parmesan.

Prawn & vodka pasta

Serves 2


200g pasta 1 tablespoon butter 1 clove of garlic 4-5 tbsp reduced and thickened classic tomato sauce 250g prawns (optional - a mixture of raw and cooked) 2 tablespoons cream cheese 2 shots vodka Handful chopped chives


1) Set a pan of salted water to boil. Put the pasta in the pan to boil.

2) Melt the butter in a large pan.

3) Chop the garlic and fry in the melted butter taking care not to burn it. Add the thickened tomato sauce followed by the vodka (optional) and cook for a minute or two until all the alcohol has burnt off. Add the cream cheese and stir.

4) Next add the uncooked prawns, if using, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes till pink and cooked through. Finally add the remaining prawns and chopped chives.

5) Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce.

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