Old-fashioned tomato sauce

We probably eat tomato sauce more than anything else in the world; yet so few of us bother to make it ourselves. For something so simple, such lack of interest is remarkable. And now that the microwave is so much part of our lives, you can put it together more quickly, more simply and with just as much flavour.

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

1 carrot, peeled and chopped


200 ml cheap white vinegar

The vinegar should be there not for its flavour, but for its preserving qualities.

lOOg brown sugar

2 kg Roma tomatoes, skinned; or the equivalent from a tin

1 dessertspoon salt

2 dessertspoons black pepper,


2 bunches of basil, leaves removed from the stalks

Keep the basil in a muslin bag or wrapped in kitchen cloth.

a little balsamic vinegar

This is definitely optional. 1 like adding a little to each jar after the cooking, just for fun.

3 chillies (optional)


Cook the onions in oil until they have softened. Set aside.


Steam the carrots in some water or stock until they give to the knife.


Add the cheap vinegar and the sugar to the tomatoes, then the cooked carrots and onions, salt, black pepper and basil.


Put the lot into the microwave and cook on high for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This can be done on top of the stove; you just need to watch it more closely.) The sauce is done when thick and with all the flavours well blended.


Remove the basil and discard.

Puree and bottle in sterilised jars, adding a few drops of balsamic vinegar to each jar if you wish.