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Ingrid and I have different taste buds! I prefer the strong flavours of salt, anchovies, chili, olives, stinky cheese and rich meaty meals. She likes the vegetarian option (used to be a flexitarian) and often goes for the lighter and fresher things (don’t get me wrong, although its probably healthier – she does have a wicked sweet tooth). I can’t imagine being a vegetarian, I think I would really miss meat. Thankfully for me dad Rino has similar taste buds. Mum often comments that he puts way too much salt and olive oil in his pasta sauces, I wink at dad and know nothing is going to change! Having the opportunity to do the Family Recipe show was the perfect chance for Ingrid and I to force/hold down/brine LOL I mean bribe dad to give us the recipe. We both make our own versions of the sauce but it’s never and I mean never as good as dads. Dad’s sauce has evolved, it’s never the same but always amazing. Seriously I have never tasted a dud one – now thats pretty impressive. Every visitor to the Opera household including ex boyfriends, extended family, exchange students, family friends, friends of friends and their kids gets a tea-towel ¬†around their neck and encouragement to tuck in with gusto. Pasta is often eaten on your lap, perched on the couch, sitting on a step outside, at the awesome huge bluey purple picnic table on the deck or sitting on the floor in the lounge. One portion is never enough, dad always makes enough for seconds or thirds and we always get a container to take home. The issue now is our kids love it so much, they usually end up eating it before we get the chance! My version of dads sauce reflects my taste, its flavoursome, rich and meaty. If you’re an anchovy hater, don’t worry they really just add depth to the dish, it definitely doesn’t taste fishy! It’s a bit like dads secret ingredients (there are actually 2 we were very surprised about!) – they add that little bit extra, are hard to pinpoint but boy do they make the sauce something special.

Vanessa’s rich and meaty sauce
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Cook time

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Inspired by our Dad Rino’s famous pasta sauce
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4

What you need
  • 1 onion chopped.
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped.
  • 2-3 tablespoons oilve oil.
  • 500g beef mince – we use PREMIUM.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes.
  • 1 tube tomato puree.
  • 1 can water or more if needed.
  • 4 anchovies – use the ones in the glass bottles rather than the fresh brined ones at the deli.
  • 1 cup olives – any will do and its better without stones.
  • ½ cup capers or halved caper-berries.
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder or 1 fresh chili chopped finely.
Pasta or rice to serve it on top of.

How to make
  1. Saute the onions and garlic till soft and clear
  2. Add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon but not too much.
  3. When the mince has browned and created colour to the bottom of the pan, add a bit of the water to deglaze. (this means you scrape the delicious bits from the bottom as they add to the flavour of the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, puree and extra water and simmer (quite low) with the lid on for about 40 minutes.
  5. Check the sauce and add more water if it’s becoming too thick.
  6. You can simmer it for quite some time, just make sure you check and add more water so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  7. After about 40 minutes add the anchovies, olives, chilies and capers.
  8. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  9. Simmer for a further 10 minutes
You can use the sauce straight away but it tastes even better the next day.
Serve with your favourite pasta or even on top of rice.


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