Doug’s dinner

Today I headed to the Beard expedition at Somerset House with my friend Doug to see the brilliantly bushy (or occasionally selectively sparse) facial bristles captured by Mr Elbank.

Doug can’t eat dairy and I can’t eat a variety of stuff – meat and shellfish by choice, and lentils, pulses and onions (I’m still discovering the others) because they give me crippling stomach pains – or make me bloat for a week.

Our intolerances mean we struggle with the most convenient of foods – think pizza and curries (sigh), and on the plus side, it encourages culinary creativity. On the other hand, it’s quite difficult to make it down the greengrocer’s every day.

With this in mind, I’ve named this super quick and cheap tomato sauce, which can be created with your standard store cupboard staples after Doug! Serve it with tagliatelle and feta like I do, or as a sauce for fish. It could also be used for lasagne or a pasta bake. I tend to make extra each time I cook it so I can take it to work with some wholewheat fusilli.

For two servings, you will need…

  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • A couple of cloves of garlic (I often use three – I love garlic!)
  • Powdered or a fresh chopped red chilli, seeds discarded
  • One sugar cube
  • A splash of balsamic vinegar
  • A splash of olive oil
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Green olives (optional)
  • Fresh basil (optional)


  1. Heat the oil for a minute in a large frying pan. Use medium – high heat – basically you don’t want to burn your garlic or oil. If you’re using fresh chilli, fry this at the same time
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, balsamic vinegar, herbs, salt and pepper and chilli powder if you’re using it.
  3. Cut the olives into slices with scissors, leaving some whole and add these to the sauce (optional)
  4. Heat for five minutes on a medium heat
  5. Serve with fresh, torn basil leaves or leave out to cool before storing in an airtight container in the fridge

Give it a go – and do let me know how you get on – @getfrank!

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