Olia hercules’ recipe for courgette caviar _ recipes from ukraine _ life and style _ the guardian

I grew up among the vast, flat steppes of southern Ukraine. Homemade pasta sauce from tomatoes It is the land where Scythians had built their ancient civilisation, leaving 20m-high kurhans (burial grounds) and many miles of extremely fertile virgin soils, which luckily are still preserved in Askania Nova biosphere reserve. Homemade pasta sauce recipe nz The soil, called chernozem (black soil) has always been extremely rich, and the climate hot and dry for five months of the year. Tomato pasta sauce using passata Then came the Soviets, and in 1956 they built a dam over the river Dnieper, creating a colossal reservoir and a complex irrigation system and many a canal.

Homemade pasta sauce healthy Before that happened, my aunt once told me, the tomatoes our ancestors used to grow were tiny and fiercely sweet. Homemade tomato spaghetti sauce fresh tomatoes Now, with water in abundance, but the soil just as rich and the sun even hotter than it used to be 60 years ago, we grow really superb and sizable fruit and vegetables.

The most common tomatoes are now dusty-pink, gnarled and comically misshapen, the size of a small grapefruit. Best homemade pasta sauce fresh tomatoes They are some of the most perfect tomatoes in the world – fragrant, juicy, meaty. Easy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe When I cook back home in Ukraine, or when I smuggle a small suitcase-full back to London, I don’t even bother grating them when I make tomato sauce. Easy homemade white sauce for pasta My son and I simply grab some with our hands and effortlessly squash them into the pan, juices splattering all over us and the wall behind the hob. How to make homemade sauce for pasta I sometimes also smuggle some stubby, round aubergines, royal-purple with faint fragmented lines, as if splashed by a hapless painter-decorator.

Another thing I adore is courgettes, and luckily British ones are of amazing quality. Pasta sauce homemade What I love most is a slow-cooked, deep, dark brown and velvety courgette, with every single sugar molecule teased out of it. Sauce for pasta with chicken Sliced thinly and cooked for ages until they melt into the most delicious sauce, this was my favourite thing to eat when I lived in Italy as a student. Recipe for homemade pasta sauce In my view, the two culinary worlds of Ukraine and Italy make natural friends with their unbreakable atavistic spirit and exaltation of their land and the sun.

When I was a kid, we made a courgette paste at the end of the season to use up the glut and to eat over the winter. Homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch with fresh tomatoes At least 20kg of courgettes would be slow-cooked with some onion, garlic and tomatoes until quite dry. Homemade fresh tomato pasta sauce This thick puree was then sent to sterilised jars and topped with a clever Soviet contraption that seals jars hermetically.

Of course, you could find a watery shop-bought version, which my dad shamelessly preferred! In fact, my mum says courgette paste wasn’t my grandmother’s favourite either – she preferred “aubergine caviar” for winter months. Best homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch Courgettes were cheap, and at the end of the season she mostly gave them to the pigs.

But I loved it, eaten over a slice of coriander- and caraway-seed Borodinsky bread, molasses-dark. Homemade spaghetti sauce recipe to can Nowadays, in autumn and winter, I love stuffing this paste into Azerbaijani-style qutabs or half moon flatbreads. Sauce for pasta and sausage I make an unleavened water and flour dough, let it rest, then roll it out into 30cm circles and spread the bottom half with the paste. Making homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch I scatter over a little feta and a couple of pomegranate seeds and fry them in a dry pan for three minutes on each side.It is also amazing with crudités or some pitta breads, or heated with a pinch of chilli flakes and stirred through pasta with some of the cooking water and pecorino. Homemade tomato basil pasta sauce Slow-cooked courgette ‘caviar’

2 In a large pan (I use a huge stock pot), heat 50ml of the oil. Homemade tomato pasta sauce Add the onions and cook over a low-medium heat until they start to soften and just begin to acquire a gentle golden hue (it may take up to 10 minutes). Best homemade spaghetti sauce recipe for canning Now, add the carrots and cook, stirring from time to time, until they too soften. Tomato pasta sauce with cream cheese Cook both for 5-10 minutes.

3 Add the courgettes and cook over a medium-high heat for the first 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Homemade pasta sauce to freeze When they start to collapse, lower the heat and cook slowly, stirring often, for about 30 minutes.

4 Once the courgettes have been on for 30 minutes, grate the tomatoes coarsely, discarding the skins. Homemade spaghetti sauce recipe paula deen Add the tomato pulp and juice to the pan. Homemade tomato and basil pasta sauce Cook the mixture down over a medium-high heat, stirring from time to time. Homemade spaghetti sauce from ketchup You want the mixture to keep catching slightly, so that it caramelises, but make sure to scrape at it with a wooden spoon, adding splashes of water to help it along and to stop it burning. Best homemade spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes Keep an eye on it for the next 30‑40 minutes. Making pasta sauce from scratch with tomatoes You can help the process along by gently crushing all the vegetables with a potato masher.

5 At this stage, season your courgettes. Making sauce for pasta I just like flaky sea salt, but you can certainly get creative with it and add a little spice. Homemade pasta sauce for toddlers When its starts spitting violently, lower the heat. Easy homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch You should end up with a thick, brown, paste.

6 Let the mixture cool and sterilise a jar. Tomato pasta sauce recipe jamie oliver If there is no way you can seal those hermetically, pour a little oil on top of the paste to help keep it longer. Pasta sauce homemade recipe Store it in a cold place like a cellar or your fridge until needed.

• Olia Hercules is a food writer, food stylist and the author of Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Beyond (Mitchell Beazley); @oliahercules. White sauce recipe for pasta by sanjeev kapoor Rachel Roddy is away. Tomato pasta sauce with hidden veg recipe Olia still lives in London.