Monday, August 18, 2008

Twice the Spice Tomato Sauce

An excellent spicy sauce made with fresh or canned tomatoes that can be used with pasta or as an accompaniment to barbecued meats. Recipe serves 6.


2 pound (1 kg) fresh, juicy, peeled tomatoes, or 2 tins of whole tomatoes
2 large onions, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 small dry, chopped chilies (or a pinch of chili powder)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Chopped basil leaves
Black pepper


1. Cook sliced onion in olive oil over low heat until it becomes transparent. Stir in the chopped chilies (or the chili powder), crushed garlic, sugar, pepper, and chopped basil leaves.
2. Press peeled, fresh tomatoes, or tinned tomatoes through strainer. Add to onion mixture and simmer slowly without covering until a smooth, thick consistency is achieved.
3. Allow to cool before using or storing in glass jars.

Note: This sauce keeps well in the refrigerator.

Tricolor Pasta Salad with Cheese Dressing

You can make this easy and healthy salad a day ahead and refrigerate it to keep it cold. If the pasta absorbs too much of the dressing, stir in 1 or 2 tablespoons of water just before serving to restore the creamy texture. Recipe serves 4.


8 ounces (250 g) medium-sized tricolor pasta shells, or elbow macaroni
4 cups cauliflower florets
3 medium-sized carrots peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 medium-sized stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small yellow zucchini, halved and thinly sliced on the diagonal
For the Dressing:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/4 teaspoons dried basil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
2 spring onions, including tops, sliced (optional garnish)


1. Bring a stock pot of water to the boil; add the pasta. When the water returns to the boil, add the cauliflower and carrots and cook for 4 minutes. Add the celery and cook for a further 3 minutes or until the pasta is firm-tender. Add the zucchini, remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Rinse thoroughly under cold water and transfer to a large bowl.
2. To make the dressing, blend the cottage cheese, Parmesan, apple juice, vinegar, mustard, garlic, basil and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour the dressing over the pasta-vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Cover with plastic food wrap and chill for 4 hours. Garnish with spring onions if desired.

Dried Apricot Conserve

You can vary this easy yet delectable jam by using a dried fruit medley, dried peaches or dried pears. You can also replace the cloves with fresh or ground ginger. Recipe makes 1 cup.


1 cup dried apricots
Juice of 1 orange
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1/2 cup warm water


1. Chop apricots roughly.
2. Combine in mixing bowl with juice, spices, and water. Cover. Allow to stand for 1 hour.
3. Spoon into saucepan and cook gently for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and starts to combine. Alternatively, spoon into a bowl and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir two to three times during cooking until mixture thickens and starts to combine.
4. Spoon into container, cover and cool.
5. Stir again, adding a little more water if necessary, then refrigerate until ready to use.

To store, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.