- tomato paste you dont need much but i chuck the whole jar in so i can use the jar for sauce.
- tomatoes i go for 2 810g cans of tomatoes.
- olive oil
- herbs i use oregano, basil, paprika, salt, pepper, and the mystery jars that have no labels, sometimes curry powders or garam masala, cinnamon or nutmeg (in small quantities, it's got a pretty strong flavour). if you want to get creative chuck in some pine nuts. they can be expensive if you go using a whole box so i only chuck in a hand-full or so. but they add texture and make it a bit ... festive.
- garlic chuck in however much you want. depending on how much you want to chop. i go for a whole bulb but even 4 cloves will do. it also depends on how much you want to taste it i guess
- onions at least one but again, as many as you want. i tend to put in all my onions since its common for me to forget i have them and have to throw them out when they go all manky.
- other vegetables i throw in anything that has to get used before it starts to grow legs. but i can suggest olives, mushrooms, zucchini, tomato chunks, celery, carrots, capers, corn. seriously. ANYTHING.
- stock i use some vegetable stock an a meat stock, either beef or chicken, either OR neither will do depending on whether you're going for a non/meat version. with meat stock in, it means you get meat flavour without putting any meat in. meat can be pretty expensive so its a good way to get around spending more money.
- water this is going to be one of those important ingredients that you tend to forget about. just keep a mug of water handy. you'll need it.
- some music and a drink to pass the time
throw in your tomatoes and tomato paste. also throw in your herbs, some olive oil and your stock and vegetables.
after half an hour you should notice that it's starting to evaporate a bit ie: you've got less in there than you started with because the water is steaming away. never fear, this is supposed to happen. when your sauce has bubbled away to half or a third of what you started with, add more water until you're back to the original amount of liquid you started off with, stir and leave to bubble away again.
here are a few shots of the pot at different stages of cooking. notice the line at the top of the pot that shows how much i let it boil away and then refill with water to the top
i tend to let it cook for 3 to 5 hours so this is why i recommend music and using the time to clean. as long as you have the heat low and keep coming back to stir and check on it, you'll be ok to leave the kitchen. once you pour all the sauce into jars, leave about a centimetre at the top for olive oil. this will help it live longer in the fridge. use plastic jars if you're going to freeze them.