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Tomato chilli sauce for the freezer

Stack of chilli pasta sauce containers ready for the freezer.

Stack of chilli pasta sauce containers ready for the freezer.

First thing this morning I used up quite a few things close to their use-by dates by making a large pan of tomato sauce for the freezer – it took under an hour but I’ll be hugely glad I did it when I pull a tub out one evening for supper and all I have to do is cook some pasta.

But the most important thing to remember about this “recipe” is that it’s a guide to making a base tomato sauce – if you don’t have/don’t like anchovies, don’t put them in! Ditto for the capers. I’ve made this dozens of times and it’s different each time


  • 200-400g smoked bacon lardons (or use bacon and dice it)
  • 1 large leek, finely chopped and rinsed
  • 12 cherry tomatoes halved or 6 large tomatoes, quartered (or both)
  • 2 (bell) peppers, deseeded and sliced into strips
  • 2-3 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 350g pack of passata
  • Half a finger length of tomato purée
  • 6+ cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 chillies (2 teaspons of “lazy” chilli is also fine, especially first thing in the morning!)
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • Small (50g) tin anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained and finely chopped
  • Large handful of frozen peas, thawed
  • Handful fresh chopped parsley or a couple teaspoons dried parsley (you could also use basil, oregano, your herb of choice)


  1. Heat your favourite oil (vegetable, rapeseed, olive) in a large pan or wok.
  2. Add the bacon lardons and cook for 5 minutes then add the diced leek.
  3. Cook until the leeks are softened then add the fresh tomatoes and peppers, cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chillies and anchovies, stir through.
  5. Add the passata, purée, tinned tomatoes and peas and check for seasoning then bring to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
  7. Leave to cool then batch up into suitable containers (I used five 350-400g containers to serve 2).
  8. When you’re ready to eat, reheat over a gentle heat for 10 minutes or so, serve with spaghetti or linguini and a crusty bread to mop up.


  • If you’ve suddenly got an extra mouth to feed and not quite enough sauce, add another tin of chopped tomatoes.
  • The two “mini” containers in the photograph are filled with the sauce that didn’t quite fit in the main ones. It was a happy accident a few years ago that led to me spreading the sauce as a topping on toast as a sort of bruscetta. Any bread will do, ciabatta is especially good.
  • It’s a lovely sauce on its own but you can also add cooked prawns or meatballs for an even more satisfying supper.
  • The containers you get with a takeaway Indian meal are perfect for freezing this and other sauces.

Front page photograph of tomato sauce in a cast iron pan by Michael Hoy.

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