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I struggled this week with my double duty dinners, My kids aren’t great eating what I eat and  rather than go out an buy a hunk of meat I decided to try to make use of what I had. My kids are better eaters when the meal is combined like a pasta, rice dish or casserole , the concept of meat and 3 veg doesn’t go down that well with them! I always have tinned tomatoes so whipped up a real EASY and versatile  pasta sauce. I made it so simple using the measurements of the cans so you can do it with your eyes closed! My first dinner is totally kid friendly and can be bumped up for adults by adding some spicy heat or instead of using ham, pan fry any cut of meat or poultry to go with it – even a runny egg for a bit of comfort!

Double duty dinners: Tomato pasta
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Seriously EASY Tomato sauce
Recipe type: Sauce
Serves: 4

What you need
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 1 can water
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • (optional extras – 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce OR chopped chilies OR mixed herbs/fresh basil OR 1 teaspoon smoked paprika)
  • Pasta – I used macaroni – enough for 4
  • 1-2 cups chopped ham
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of chopped parsley

How to make
  1. Saute onions until soft
  2. Add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, 1 tin puree and 1 tin water.
  3. Add salt, pepper and sugar as well as well as any extras
  4. Simmer for about 30mins on low.
  5. Taste and add more water if its getting too thick.
  6. (Divide the sauce in half and use the remainder for tomorrows dinner – approximately 2 cups for each dinner)
  7. Cook pasta as per instructions on the packet
  8. Saute the ham
  9. Microwave the peas
  10. Toss together with a few spoonfuls of hot tomato sauce and top with parmesan cheese.
  11. Tip – My parents (Dad’s Italian) always use the parmesan cheese pre-grated in a shaker. For years I have bought the wedge of parmesan and grated it myself. They both have their merits and now, busy with kids, the pre-grated has made a come-back. Don’t dismiss it, its actually really good!

The next double duty dinner isn’t really kid friendly however it can’t always be about the kids. This tomato based seafood soup/stew is equally as easy as the pasta and can be glammed up with exotic seafood or equally as delicious with just fish. I added squid but wouldn’t include it again, even though I cooked it briefly, it was a bit chewy. I think the squid tasted much better coated in flour and spice and pan fried. You could do this and add it at the end if you have the time. Any left over pasta sauce can be used on for pizzas – these are kid friendly and easier than you think. Check out our EASY pizza dough or our sardine pizzettes.

Double duty dinners:Tomato seafood stew
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Recipe type: Seafood
Serves: 4

What you need
  • 2 cups of homemade tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 cloves of sliced garlic
  • 2 lemons squeezed
  • Chopped parsley
  • Optional – Chili – fresh or dried
  • Seafood – firm fish, mussels, cockles/clams, prawns or scallops – enough for 4 people

How to make
  1. In a pot add tomato sauce, water, garlic and lemon juice.
  2. Cook each seafood/fish separately “in the tomato sauce” and set aside.
  3. Shellfish – heat the tomato sauce and add cleaned mussels or cockles/clams.
  4. Add the lid and cook for a minute or two, checking to see if the shells have opened. When they have, using tongs, take out and put aside.
  5. Keep doing this until all shells have opened. After about 5 minutes, if any shells haven’t opened – discard.
  6. Prawns/scallops/fish – drop into the tomato sauce, simmering for about 1 minute or so – they really don’t need much time at all. Take out, put aside and repeat with each type of seafood.
  7. In individual bowls, place the seafood. Pour over the hot tomato sauce and top with chopped parsley.
  8. Serve with crusty bread or spicy roasted potoatoes and a green salad.


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