1 bottle of passata
1 big onion
1 pack of pancetta (optional)
that head of celery lurking in the vegetable drawer
the stray lone red pepper on the middle shelf
chicken stock cube (s)
red lentils (I think there's a few left on the top shelf of the
vegetable rack by the door, if not there's a bag on the side by the
italian herb seasoning
you also need my big metal pan and lid. Be warned, it takes ages to heat up but once it does it's FIERCE and you need to keep a close eye on things so they don't stick and burn.
If you're making lentilly bacony tomatoey loveliness start with the pancetta. Put it in dry and then let the fat render so it's crispy. Do this on a medium heat and watch it like a hawk. When it's all brown and lovely and gooey, fish it out (leaving the fat) and put it to one side.
Using the fat from the pancetta (if not, put a dab of butter or oil in) and start with softening the onions. Really watch them or they'll catch. You might do best to chop everything up first. When they've softened up, add all the other chopped veg and a really good slug of garlic paste (there's more on the vegetable rack) and put the lid on, leaving them to soften while you have a smoke (this is about the right amount of time). Keep a close eye and stir stir. When you're satisfied that they're softening up nicely, add the passata. Don't rinse the bottle! Put it on the side. Stir it in, along with the tomato puree and the black pepper and herbs, and then boil the kettle.
Wrap the passata bottle in a towel so you can hold it, and fill it about two thirds full with water from the kettle, to wash out the last bits of tomato. Add a stock cube. Stir it all in, stick the lid on, and leave it on a low heat for a good 20 minutes or so. Keep stirring occasionally to make sure there's no sticking.
When it's looking nicely globby, take it off the heat and put it on the side. Leave it for a few minutes. Have a cup of tea. Knit a few rows. Then come back, having removed any clothes you are particularly attached to, and put on your apron. Stand the pan on a folded towel on the side so it doesn't move, and using the hand blender carefully puree it smooth. I find that to start with you have to just attack it
bit by bit. Try not to splatter yourself too much and get it as smooth as you can. Be really careful though because the blade's deceptively sharp :)
At that point you can add the bacon back in and you might want to put some more water in too, about the same amount as before (and probably another stock cube, as optimum stock quantity is one stock cube to 300ml of water). Add in the leftover lentils in the veg rack and about another fifth of the new pack, and then let it simmer on a low low heat with the lid on, checking it to make sure it's not sticking.
If it looks dry add boiling water about a cup full at a time.
When it's done just turn it off and leave the lid on :) Don't forget it'll go bloopy and splattery as the lentils cook so keep your apron on as you're stirring.
Garlic bread dear? :)