Words by Justine Cordery
One of my favourite, go-to recipes at university has been a pasta sauce that my dad came up with a few years ago. Although over the past year, during lockdown, I’m more inclined to call it my recipe than his due to the excessive amounts of time that I have made it.
It is so simple and very adaptable to your taste buds depending on what you like!
For my recipe you only need 2-3 chicken breasts, two bell peppers, one white onion, one large courgette, one stock cube, one tinned can of chopped tomatoes and tomato purée. I do include garlic, salt, pepper, a blend of Italian herbs and paprika, sometimes smoked paprika if I’m feeling fancy but these are definitely not necessities to the recipe… just things that make it taste even better!
Firstly, you chop the chicken and pepper into the same sizes, (for me that’s cutting the chicken and peppers into cubes) and then cutting the onion into fine slices. Then add the onion to a heated saucepan and cook until it is slightly browned, (if you are adding garlic, this is when you add the finely minced garlic). After that, add the chicken and cook until you know the chicken is cooked, for me that is until all the chicken pieces are white/very slightly browned (be careful not to over cook them, although equally make sure that you cook them enough!). After this, or just at the end of this stage, add the stock cube and make sure that all the chicken and onion have been mixed in with it before moving on to the next step.
The next step is probably the most satisfying. You add the whole can of chopped tomatoes, washing the last remainders of the tin out, filling half the can with water and adding that also to the sauce. At this point you’ll notice the sizzling of the pan go right down and, at least for me, it feels a lot less stressful than the first half of the cooking stage! Mix well until all the ingredients are covered in tomato sauce and then mix in a tablespoon and a half of tomato purée (although to be honest I just squeeze it from the tube until it looks like enough!).
At this stage you will want to start boiling your pasta, or rice, so that they’re ready at about the same time, although, no matter how many times I make this recipe, I can never get the timings just right!
Finally, you need to add the chopped-up peppers to the sauce and make sure they’re all mixed into the sauce. Then about, five minutes before either your pasta or rice is ready, add the sliced courgette to the sauce. At this stage, I also add my salt, pepper, paprika and blend of Italian herbs to the sauce. Leave all of this to cook while your pasta or rice is finishing, making sure to keep on stirring frequently so that the sauce doesn’t stick to the pan. If this does happen, I tend to add a bit of the pasta water to the sauce just to keep it going!
Once the pasta/rice is ready, serve it up either beside it or mixing it in and it is such a healthy but delicious way to change up the usual uni pasta sauces or to make your rice a bit more exciting!