Deliciously simple pasta sauce recipes you can make in 20 minutes

Want to make a quick and easy dinner but out of ideas? Cucina Vivo’s Chef de Cuisines Dayan Hartill-Law is here to help with three of his go-to pasta sauce recipes that are delicious and a breeze to whip up.

As we slowly start returning to normal working hours and heading back to the office, we don’t have as much spare time that can be blissfully whiled away in the kitchen. This means dinners are back to what’s quick, easy and will satisfying everyone’s stomachs.

Pasta is a go-to for many families thanks to how efficiently a meal can be whipped up around it but Cucina Vivo’s Chef de Cuisines Dayan Hartill-Law says you can improve the meal by staying away from pre-made sauces and instead quickly make a sauce from scratch that won’t add more than 20 minutes to your cooking time.

“Making pasta sauce for a lot of people is often complicated,” says Dayan. “It is sometimes a real labour of love that finds some disappointing results.” To avoid a meal ending in disaster, Dayan suggests sticking to some basic principles to ensure you end up with a delicious sauce.

“Stick to three ingredients like tomato, basil and garlic,” says Dayan. “Don’t overload your palate with 10 flavours. Ensure that one ingredient is the hero. So, in the case of tomato, basil and garlic, the sauce needs to sing tomato and the basil and garlic are the supporting act.”

“Find flavour with a few sneaky tricks,” says Dayan. “In a tomato-based pasta sauce I like to use dried chipotle chillies or chipotle in adobo as it adds a sweet and smoky spice. My favourite thing of all is pangrattato (breadcrumbs) best made with old bread.”

Here are Dayan’s go-to pasta sauce recipes…

Carbonara

Carbonara is really an institution and so many variations over the years have played with it and made it creamy or have mushrooms at heart though carbonara is a peppery salty plate of deliciousness.

Ingredients

100g guanciale cut into fine strips (bacon is ok, as is pancetta)

1 egg yolk whisked with a touch of olive oil

1 egg yolk to dress the pasta

3g fresh thyme

1 shallot finely diced

100g finely shaved pecorino

Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Start a cold pan on medium heat with your guanciale and allow the fat to render out. Once you begin to see a little colour turn the heart right down.
  2. Add in your diced shallot and slowly cook these to allow the flavour to sweeten and until the shallot becomes translucent.
  3. Add your cooked pasta to the pan, keeping a little bit of past water.
  4. Add your cheese and really work it into the pasta. Add a touch of water if you need to ensure the cheese melts and the pasta is coated.
  5. Remove pan from heat and add the whisked yolk. Ensure you keep the pasta moving when adding the yolk so that it doesn’t cook.
  6. Add thyme, cracked pepper and taste. Season to taste.
  7. Transfer past to plate and then plan your egg yolk on top, a little more thyme and more cracked pepper.

Cherry Tomato and Chilli

Ingredients

150g cherry tomatoes halved

2 shallots finely diced

1 garlic clove finely sliced

1 dried chipotle chilli

20ml olive oil

Method

  1. On low heat place olive oil, garlic and shallots in the pan. Allow them to become translucent.
  2. Add your cherry tomatoes all face down in the pan. Add the chilli and put the lid on the pan. Leave for around 5-7 minutes as this will allow the skins of the tomatoes to steam up, you will see them stick up when you take the lid off.
  3. Pluck each of the tomato skins off with tongs. Once all are removed toss to break up the tomatoes.
  4. Once looking like sauce, add your cooked pasta.
  5. Finish by topping with fresh grated parmesan and olive oil.

Pork and Fennel Sausage

This is a favourite in Dayan’s household. It’s worth going to the butcher to ask how they make their pork and fennel sausage and finding a good one.

Ingredients

2 pork and fennel sausage, meat squeezed from casting

3 heads broccolini cut into 3cm pieces

300ml chicken stock

50ml olive oil

100g finely grated smoked cheddar

50g pangrattato

Method

  1. On medium heat, heat oil and sausage in a pan. Work the sausage meat in the pan to break it apart.
  2. Once meat is broken apart cook any excess moisture and fry till you begin to get colour.
  3. Add chicken stock and begin reducing. Bring it right down till it becomes 80-100ml. You need to have enough to allow the broccolini to cook. Around the 180ml-200ml add the broccolini and cook it. Don’t overcook the broccolini you want it to have some bite.
  4. Once the sauce is reduced add your pasta (orecchiette is the hero for this recipe) and toss through.
  5. Add cheese and toss to ensure the cheese is emulsified with the stock.
  6. Serve with a liberal amount of the pangrattato on top and you can even sprinkle some dried chilli.