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The difference between a good pizza or pasta and a great one is the type and amount of sauce used.

Watch the video to see my very own pasta sauce recipe that is really simple, delicious and versatile. You can use it in pasta, on your homemade pizza (I’ll show you how very soon!), or even as a dip with nachos and chips. All you have to do is to play around with the amount of virgin olive oil and basil leaves added to the sauce.

The sauce is inspired by a MasterChef Australia 2011 episode I watched in which a famous Italian chef showed contestants how to make pasta sauce by roasting tomatoes along with herbs while preparing vegetable lasagne. I loved the idea of baking the tomatoes before tossing them into the blender.

Manisha's recipe for quick and easy pasta sauce

A few days later, some friends called to say they were dropping by. I didn’t have much time to make anything elaborate. I found some pizza dough resting in the fridge, some pasta in the pantry and the MasterChef episode began bubbling in my mind. I devised my own recipe within the next hour and the results were just fantastic – my friends agreed wholeheartedly and left with full stomachs and a big smile on their faces. A definite life-changing experience as far as my relationship with pasta sauces go!

What I enjoy about this sauce is the roasted and caramelized flavour from the baked veggies, the balance of sour and sweet and the fact that it’s so easy to make! Even better, you can prep this sauce while in the midst of cooking a meal, watching your favourite TV show or while catching up with your friends.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 50-60 minutes

Manisha's recipe for quick and easy pasta sauce

Ingredients:

Red tomatoes – 1 kg
Garlic cloves – 7-8
Medium-sized onion – 1
Basil leaves – 7-12
Red chillies – 2-3

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade and place the rack on the third level of your oven.

Manisha's recipe for quick and easy pasta sauce

2) Heat water in a big pan. Wash the tomatoes, remove the tough cores and make a cut at the other end in the shape of a cross. Once the water is hot, turn off the heat and immerse the tomatoes. Let them rest for 5 minutes so that the skin of the tomatoes can be peeled off.

3) Roughly chop the tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves and red chillies. Roll the basil leaves before chopping to get the maximum flavor out of the leaves.

Manisha's recipe for quick and easy pasta sauce

4) Grease a baking sheet or tray generously with olive oil. First spread a layer of onions, garlic and basil leaves, then top with chopped tomatoes. Bake for 40 minutes.

5) If the vegetables are cooked well and are soft enough, they are ready to be put in the blender. If they need more time, stir the vegetables on the tray and place the rack on the second level of the oven. Bake again for 15 minutes or till the vegetables are soft.

Manisha's recipe for quick and easy pasta sauce

6) Either mash the vegetables or blend them coarsely in the blender. To boost the flavour, add virgin olive oil to the sauce.

7) Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze it. It will last for seven days in the refrigerator but can be stored for up to a year in the freezer.

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