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I can’t get enough of Dad’s pasta sauce, I like it any which way it comes, which could be vegetarian, with ‘premium’ mince, carrots, fresh tomatoes, or canned, delivered to my house by way of mum or as part of a family get together. It’s always in our life somewhere, in the freezer, on the stovetop or on a list of what Dad needs to bring to the table for every family occasion. Using Dad’s sauce as inspiration – this is not a sauce that needs improvement! – I have simply tweaked it a bit to my tastes. I was even influenced by Mike from The Food Truck, after we spent a day filming the TV Show Family Recipes. He added smoked paprika, which gave his sauce a real gutsy kick. Dad’s sauce is not a traditional Italian sauce, in fact it’s got strange ‘non Italian’ ingredients such as curry powder and soy sauce, so I figured Spanish smoked paprika will only add to its eclectic flavor. I used to be ‘a little bit’ vegetarian – Vanessa would have called me fussy, but I wasn’t big on red meat – although since I have had children, my tastes have totally been reprogrammed. I have always enjoyed Dad’s vegetarian sauce which came about to satisfy my vegetarian period. I added aubergines to my sauce which are great for soaking up flavors. I was stoked when the sauce turned out like Dad’s – as when Vanessa and I tried to recreate Dad’s sauce on the Family Recipes TV Show, it wasn’t quite Dad’s sauce – instead of time being an improvement for the sauce, the takes and retakes, meant we over-stirred, and added an extra packet of mince which made it more of a bolognese sauce. It still tasted great, but it wasn’t Dad’s. Enjoy

Ingrid’s smoky vegetarian pasta
Prep time

Cook time

Total time


A rich, hearty and comforting pasta sauce.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Modern Italian
Serves: 4-6

What you need
  • a good slug of vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole eggplant, chopped into cubes – fry until golden
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into chunks
  • a dash of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cans 400g tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 can 400g tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

How to make
  1. In a large pot on a medium heat, add a slug of vegetable oil and add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are soft and clear.
  2. Add chopped eggplant, season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir frequently until it begins to soften – around 10 minutes. Add red pepper.
  3. Add a dash of soy sauce, curry powder, dried oregano and smoked paprika.
  4. Add a pinch of salt and cracked pepper
  5. Turn up the heat and add leftover red wine (AS IF!!!!) Add bay leaves.
  6. Let it sizzle and then reduce heat and simmer until liquid reduces to half
  7. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Stir
  8. Simmer over an hour, adding water slowly as the sauce reduces.
  9. Taste taste taste and add salt and pepper to your taste.
  10. Add a tablespoonful of brown sugar (it takes the acidity out of the tomatoes.)
  11. It should be saucy (not watery)
The sauce tastes better the next day!
Serve with fettucine


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