Tuscan-inspired Pasta Sauce

Pasta is possibly one of the easiest meals to whip up on a busy weeknight.  Having a few good sauces in your repertoire means you can serve up a simple, healthy and delicious meal to the family in next to no time at all.   When it comes to sauces, I like to experiment and come up with new flavours.  My experimentation generally comes from a place of desperation most nights, as I frantically rummage through my fridge and pantry to see what I can throw into a pan in order to make dinner.   Pasta is very forgiving as 9 times out of 10, whatever you team with it will work out.  This sauce is one of those that came about as I only had a few ingredients to work with.  The good thing about this recipe is that the ingredients can be adjusted depending on what you've got in your fridge at the time. Ultimately, whatever veggies you decide to use, this sauce is flavoursome, healthy and delicious.

1 large brown onion, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 large bunch of Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale) or regular Kale, finely sliced
1 large red capsicum, thinly sliced
240g can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons dried oregano (Greek oregano is preferable for its flavour, but regular is fine)
2 teaspoons dried Herbs de Provence
1/2 to 1 teaspoons dried chilli flakes (add chilli flakes to taste)
Sea salt flakes, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

In a large saute pan, pour in a good lug of extra virgin olive oil and add the diced onion and crushed garlic and sauté over a medium-high heat for a few minutes until the onions become soft and translucent.

Sprinkle the dried chilli flakes (to taste, depending on how spicy you like your sauce) over the onions and garlic and mix well.

Add the drained canellini beans to the pan, grind a generous amount of black pepper over them with a few good pinches of sea salt flakes and carefully stir to mix well with the onion and garlic, being careful not to break-up the soft beans.

Once the beans are well coated, add the red capsicum and cook for a few minutes until the red capsicum starts to soften.

Add the dried oregano and Herbs de Provence to the pan and stir gently to combine.

Add the Cavolo Nero (or kale) to the pan and mix well to combine with the other ingredients.  As the kale cooks, it will slowly reduce in volume, so don't be too concerned if it looks like you've added a huge amount at first as it will greatly reduce by the time it cooks down.

Once the kale has cooked down, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and white wine and then simmer the sauce over a low heat for at least 15 minutes.

If the sauce is looking a little thick, add up to a 1/2 cup of water to thin it down.

Check the sauce for seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if required.

Once the sauce is ready, serve it over your favourite cooked pasta, or you can use it as the base for a delicious vegetarian lasagne.


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