17 August 2016

At Home with Sophia: quick and easy pasta

| Sophia Carlini
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One of my most favourite meals in the whole world is pasta. When I was a kid, my Nonna used to make the most delicious oxtail in a tomato pasta sauce, it was absolutely amazing. Lucky for me, as an adult, I was successfully able to master the recipe. So when I have the time (maybe on a Sunday), I spend the entire day cooking an oxtail sauce.

It’s very rare, these days anyway, that I actually have an entire day to spend cooking. It’s quite often though, that I crave a huge bowl of pasta topped with parmesan cheese. Although it will never be the same as a sauce that has been cooking all day, it is possible to make a delicious pasta sauce quickly, for a mid-week dinner. And you might be surprised, you need only a few ingredients.

Serving size: This will serve 4 people


3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion (diced)
2 cloves of garlic (crushed/chopped)
250g pork mince
250g beef mince
1 jar of passata
1 stock cube
Mushrooms (chopped)
Various herbs / spices
Parmesan cheese


Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add diced onion and chopped garlic, cooking until the onion softens. At this point you can add various herbs and spices from your pantry; I would normally use some paprika, rosemary and a pinch of cinnamon, but you can use whatever you like.

Add in the mince and brown. Make sure you are using a wooden spoon to break the meat up as it’s cooking. When browned, season with salt and pepper, then add the whole jar of passata and the stock cube.


Bring to the boil and turn the heat down so that the sauce continues to simmer. You can add water if you feel that the sauce is too think, but remember that it should be thick. I will usually only add water towards the end if the sauce has reduced to much. After 30 minutes on simmer, taste the sauce and season as required. If the sauce is a little sour from the tomatoes, you can add a bit of sugar to sweeten.

You can cook the sauce for as long as you like, or you can have ready-to-go sauce in half an hour. At whatever point you would like to eat the sauce, make sure you add in your chopped mushrooms, approximately 10 minutes before you take it off the stove.


Don’t forget to make your pasta while your sauce is cooking. I personally love rigatoni, but you can use any type you like.

I have no doubt you all know how to cook pasta, but just in case, it’s very easy! Boil a pot of water and add your desired pasta when boiling. Cook for approximately 6 minutes, or until just cooked through. If you test the pasta throughout the cooking process, you will be able to tell as soon as the pasta is soft and no longer feels hard. Remove from the stove and drain immediately. The trick is to leave a tiny amount of water in the bottom of the pot; this will stop the pasta sticking together. Add in a couple of big spoonfuls of the pasta sauce, stir in and season accordingly.

Serve the pasta into big pasta bowls and top with a few more spoonfuls of sauce and heaps of fresh parmesan cheese. If you like to be a little bit fancy, you can even place a sprig of basil on top.


Everyone in your family will love this dish. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love pasta!

Buon appetito!

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really liked the outcome . Great

batmantrilogy6:21 pm 18 Jan 16

Quick and easy recipe. Great !
Made it yesterday , and we all enjoyed it 🙂

Alexandra Craig10:15 am 12 Jan 16

Thanks for this recipe, Sophia. I tried it last night and really enjoyed it. For years I’ve been using my own made up bolognaise type recipe which was getting further and further away from pasta sauce and closer to a thick soup because I put so many veggies into it (zucchini, carrot, tomato, mushroom, eggplant, onion, garlic). Looking forward to next week’s recipe 🙂

Blen_Carmichael5:17 pm 10 Jan 16

Ah, spaghetti bol. Gotcha.

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