a perfect pasta sauce: garlicky, tomato and mushroom sauce

garlicky tomato and mushroom sauce

I have a confession to make. I actually posted this recipe at this point last year, when I was just starting out as a food blogger. However, I didn't have a good photo of this delicious pasta sauce. Since this is something that is one of my standby sauces, I thought it would bear repeating since I often make it And I now have a photo which I defy you not to be tempted by.
This was one of the first recipes I learned to cook for myself when I first left home for university. I wasn't a particularly good cook in those days but was sure of one thing. I liked things that tasted good so there was something of an incentive to find recipes that were both cheap and very easy to prepare. So if you know a young person who has recently left home and you are worrying that they may be starving and unable to fend for themselves, this recipe is an absolute doddle!

Over the years, this sauce has become a store cupboard standby and is delicious with rice or mashed root vegetables as well as with mountains of pasta. I often make up a large batch to be frozen in smaller portions. It makes a great basis for all sorts of stews and casseroles.

Serves 4
Skill level: Easy

4 tbsp olive oil
1 x onion, finely chopped
3 x garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
1x 400g tins of plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh marjoram or 1 tsp of dried marjoram. (Oregano can be substituted).
1 bay leaf
150ml wine (red or white)
400g spaghetti (or other pasta shapes)
Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the onion and fry gently for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic to the saucepan and continue to fry for 1 minute.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little salt and stir. Cover with a lid and fry gently for a further 5 minutes. The mushrooms will exude water and mushroom flavour into the beginnings of the sauce.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar, salt, bay leaf, dried marjoram if using and the remaining olive oil. Bring to the boil and then simmer gently in a covered pan for 30 minutes.
  5. Uncover and add the fresh marjoram at this stage if using and the wine. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  6. Check the seasoning. 
  7. At this point you can blitz up the sauce (removing the bay leav). However, I prefer a chunkier texture. 
  8. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and pour into a warmed dish.
  9. Pour the sauce over and serve immediately.
  10. Serve with grated Parmesan or Pecorino and an extra grinding of black pepper.


Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

perfect staple for so many dishes... lovely

Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

This looks delicious, healthy and refreshing! Can't wait to try it!


Lynda - TasteFood said...

This sounds lovely and perfect for a cold evening.

Mary said...

What a lovely sauce. It will make many great meals. It looks wonderful with pasta but it would work as well with rice or polenta. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

GG said...

This looks delicious. I will definitely send it to the Glam Teen at Uni. The tasty factor should tempt him to make it. GG

Jo Baker said...

Came across your web site whilst looking for a simple but inspiring tomato sauce recipe for pasta.Well I certainly found one.Have just made it for the second time with little variations.I love your site and will now trawl through the rest of the recipes and the interesting comments. Many thanks Jo Baker