FRUGAL RECIPES: GREEK TOMATO AND SAUSAGE PASTA
Updated: Apr 3
One of my favourite destinations for a summer holiday is the Greek mainland and its beautiful islands. I love it, there’s something special about the people, the ways and the atmosphere.
I’ve sailed around the Greece Islands on a felucca (an Egyptian sailing boat), I’ve island hopped on a yacht and I’ve stayed in some really cool apartments in mainland Greece and some even cooler hotels both on the mainland and on the islands.
The one thing that has always stuck out in my mind as being special is the simple and down to earth cooking. To be honest, most of Europe seems to be the same. They use basic ingredients, eat healthily and cook from scratch. That goes for hotels, restaurants and locals too. I can say, being a vegan and before that a vegetarian I've never had a problem finding something tasty to eat in Greece, Spain or Italy. I've never had to dash to the shops for a micro-meal because the restaurant food was inedible.
If I’m very honest, I’ve never even seen a micro-meal in a supermarket in Greece, Spain or Italy. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist it just means I wasn’t looking for them and why would I, with the array of fresh produce that’s available in shops and markets.
Wherever I go in the world I try to take home a recipe with me, I find it fascinating how other cultures cook such basic but interesting dishes that taste amazing. Being English, herbs and spices weren’t that high on the agenda during my growing up years. My family cooked meat and two veg recipes mainly and variety came from restaurants. I find the traditional English way of eating very boring and bland so i try not to cook like that anymore.
At 16 I branched out into the big bad world and I began to notice that the rest of the world used herbs and spices and lots of them in combinations I’d never heard of.
This led to an unhealthy obsession with learning to cook and buying kitchen gadgets that I’d never use, most of which I still have. If I don’t have the gadget then you really don’t need it.
My first trip away from home was to the Greek mainland summer 1986. I went to a place called Hanioti and I didn’t want to come home at all. I stayed for a while and I went back for a second trip. Greece was my new home from home and I didn’t want to leave it. Sadly that thing called education got in the way and I came back to the UK and got on with my student life. I didn’t go back to Greece for several years and in 1991 I went on a trip to Kefalonia.
I wasn’t quite as taken by Kefalonia as it looked half built and touristy, but I found the people to be as nice as they were on the mainland and that was the most important thing. It was a typical beach holiday during the day and a relaxing night out in the restaurants and bars in the evening.
I being me, obviously had my favourite restaurant which I went to every night. I’m a creature of habit and when I find something, I like I stick with it. I became obsessed with watching the chef at that restaurant cook. It was a local beach front restaurant that was popular with the older clientele so I stuck out a mile.
He was a pasta chef and cooked great big pans of pasta nightly. He always cooked the same way no matter what recipe he was using, and it always tasted like the best pasta I’d ever eaten. He was your typical happy, singing, Greek chef and always the first person to say hello, even before the waiter did. As soon as he saw a person heading for their table he’d shout over and say hello. Thinking about it, he could have been the owner?
Anyway, at first, he must have thought I was either chatting him up or that I was a stalker but when he finally realized I was only into him for his cooking techniques he began to teach me how to cook. So, for the next three weeks, every night I stood with him and watched him cook and I’ve never looked back. His pasta sauce recipes are amazing, but simple.
I’ve used his tomato sauce recipe ever since then and the perfect thing about this sauce is, it cost next to nothing to make and can be used as a sauce or a soup.
Please find the recipe below which I call the beach-front tomato sauce recipe. You can substitute the parsley for basil, coriander, oregano, rosemary or straight forward mixed herbs, it doesn’t really matter, it always tastes good.
You can substitute the sausage for salami, pepperoni or any kind of sausage that you like. Obviously, we eat the fake substitutes, namely Linda McCartney’s rosemary and onion sausages or whatever we can get our hands on at the time of shopping but this recipe is good for everyone.
TOMATO AND SAUSAGE PASTA
Costs £2 to make
Serves four large portions or 6 regular portions
1 x medium sized onion
1 x large clove of garlic or to small ones
1 x 500g bag of dried pasta
½ punnet of mushrooms sliced thinly
2 x sausages sliced thinly
2 x carrots sliced thinly
1 x can of tomatoes
1 x pint of vegetable stock
Half a cup of cooking oil
Salt, pepper and herbs to taste
Diced mozzarella cheese (fake)
Chop the onion into two and put one half to the side
Pour the cooking oil into the pan and heat until hot but not smoking
Cut the other half into big chunks and place into the pan
Slice the garlic into thin slices and place in the pan with the onions and stir
Chop the mushrooms and place them into the pan and stir
Keep stirring until the oil is hot and the onions start to caramelize
Pour the tine of tomatoes into the pan and stir
Keep stirring the mixture as the tomatoes begin to fry, do not let them burn
Once the mixture is hot pour in the pint of vegetable stock, give it a quick stir.
Place the lid on and turn the heat down until the mix is simmering
Keep checking on the pan stirring every 5-10 minutes
Once the mixture has reduced to half its size stir the salt, pepper and herbs onto the pan and turn off the heat. Leave to settle for twenty minutes (you can make the sauce as thick or watery as you like it all depends on preference).
Boil a pan of water with a touch of salt
Slice the carrots into thin slices and place onto a plate
Slice the sausage into thin slices and place onto a place
Once the water has boiled add the pasta, carrots and sausage to the pan and give it a stir
Keep stirring the mix to make sure the ingredients do not stick to the pan or over cook
When cooked remove the ingredients from the pan and strain (about 10-20 minutes depending on pasta and type of sausage).
Add the pasta, sausage and carrots to the sauce mix and stir until the mixture is mixed into the sauce properly.
You can either serve separate or add the sauce to the pasta it is up to you
Garnish the pasta dish with diced mozzarella cheese (fake) and chopped herbs to finish
Serve by itself, with salad, veg or garlic bread the choice is yours.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.
If you enjoyed this recipe please share it so others can benefit from it.
PS: It's the sauce that's Greek not the pasta. My pasta comes from the UK and sometimes I make it myself.
You may want to check out this recipe book for more inspiration