This Edition’s Recipe: Nick Ashby’s Mum’s Pasta Sauce

Nick Ashby’s Mum’s Pasta Sauce

1 bag of spinach
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
3 rashers of bacon
1/2 courgette

When we decided to try out this recipe, Will and I were still a bit the worse for wear from our restaurant review the previous night.
This pasta sauce with spinach and bacon, therefore, is commendably straightforward. It suits the inclinations of those who disdain the ready-meal, but whose culinary aptitude extends little further than being able to nudge a hot pan with a wooden spoon until the contents are vaguely discoloured.
“What do I do with these?” Will asked hysterically, waving a vague fist at the heap of wretchedly-chopped vegetables.
“God’s sake!” I gasped, “Just add them to the pan in the order that you would expect, and heat them until they’re cooked!”
So to clarify: Sweat the onions and garlic first, with a splash of vegetable oil; then bacon; next the courgettes, preferably diced; then come the tomatoes; finally, the spinach leaves, which will boil in the tomato sauce.
Back in the kitchen, relations between the two chefs had not improved.
“When do we start the pasta?” Will asked pathetically.
“Stop asking questions. Just shut up and listen. Do it when the other thing’s done with the thing,” I barked, cradling my forehead in my hand and frantically chewing a double aspirin.
Cooking is all about timing. Start boiling the pasta towards the end of the process and drain it as soon as it’s done – al dente, or otherwise – your choice.
“What about the sauce?”
“What about the sauce! Do I have to exhaust every little detail with tedious explanation? The sauce basically cooks itself.”
In a sense, I was right. If left for long enough in each others’ company, the bacon and vegetables will all mulch together to form a kind of cohesive stuff. Then season, and add mixed herbs if you have them.
The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity. Don’t do anything stupid. Follow these instructions closely and be attentive to common sense. Make as much mess as possible , and on no account do any washing up. A bottle of decent claret is an excellent complement. Chin-chin.


  1. well i don’t really like spinach.. can i change it with another vegetable??? thanks for your info


  2. 9 Feb ’08 at 8:15 pm

    James MacDougald

    You could try broccoli. Boil it separately, though, and chop it into small trees. Or how about rocket?