Pasta sauces: How many supermarket checkouts are there in Edinburgh? That’s about how many pasta sauces there are available these days. (No, I don’t know the answer to either question – nor do I care, so don’t bother to tell me).
In other words, you don’t have to keep to a specific recipe for a sauce. Let’s just continue to cheat fairly.
Ok, you can buy pasta sauces. So go buy one if you want. The price of a pasta sauce is not so great, so you may just decide to buy one and stir it in. However, here are ways to do a good, low cost pasta sauce of your own making – and you can boast about it afterwards.
- Cheating fairly 1 – Bachelors/Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup. (It was called Campbell’s Condensed Soup for years). Without any other additions, simply pour a can of Campbell’s/Bachelors condensed cream of mushroom soup (or even the low fat version, if you must) into your drained pasta, rinse the can with half a cup of the now cooled pasta water (add water to can, hold a clean hand over open end, shake vigorously, pour mixture into saucepan) and heat for just a few mo’s. In addition, you can add some frozen/canned sweetcorn/peas/other already cooked and readily available veg.
- Cheating fairly 2 – The bacon part (or indeed, the part that’s not bacon….):
- If you have wisely bought a cheap ‘bacon bits’ pack (offcuts) from the market, you can chop them up (discarding the fatty bits – or fry those up and put them in the dog) into 1cm cubes and fry them off with lots of coarsely cut onion and add that to the pasta before the can of condensed soup.
- Or, if you have some of the currently fashionable wafer-thin ham left over from whatever, tear that up and chuck that in instead.
- Or, of course, forget the bacon/ham and drain off the contents of a can of tuna and chuck that in instead, with the sweetcorn.
- If you like pasta & sauce, you like cheap living.
- Cheating fairly 3: Instead of the Campbell’s/Bachelors condensed soup, try a can of chopped tomatoes (they must be chopped though, not just the whole plum toms). The accompaniments can still be the same (except that Tuna certainly goes better with the mushroom soup variation).
- Cheating fairly 4: Some people like to just drizzle olive oil and lemon or lime juice over the pasta before mixing with a good, clean pair of hands. Me? I want MEAT!
- Cheating fairly 5: The simplest sauce, I suppose, would be a can of chopped tomatoes with torn-up fresh basil leaves. That one is nice. Try it, especially if you can add a little tomato puree to the canned toms before heating it up. Add the torn basil leaves as you pour it over the pasta as they need no cooking. Another good veggie alternative:
- Pasta types/kinds/methods & things:
Penne is basically a pasta tube that catches the sauce. Other shapes, like the shells, do the same thing, but differently. The pasta spirals are also designed to make the most of the sauce by catching it in the slots. But pasta is pasta is pasta. Shapes differ, sauce collection varies but pasta is basically pasta. There is normal pasta and there is pasta Verdi (green pasta because they’ve put spinach in it); there is wholemeal pasta and there is egg pasta. There is good pasta and not-so-good pasta, but pasta is generally a good value, wholesome, substantial meal. Try Gigli pasta. I first discovered this in France and I like it more than most types.
Fresh pasta is really much nicer than the basic dried stuff – but it is still pasta.
At least with the good ol’ spud you can boil it, roast it, bake it, fry it, sauté it……. With most pasta, you normally just boil it.
- However you have your pasta, it is quick, easy and it can be really nice if you know how to push its buttons. Accompany it with salad and you have a good, wholesome, quite healthy and attractive meal.
- Until you get fed up with pasta, as I have. But there we are. I still eat pasta quite often, but it’s normally because I need a change from non-pasta dishes – or I’m in a hurry.
- Hurry = pasta.
- Whatever sauce you choose, pour it over the pasta, mix, reheat a little and serve.
- Add seasoning to taste (not any salt if it’s with bacon) and scoff.