Tuesday, April 16, 2013

All That Tomato Sauce

Earlier I posted on how to make a good, basic tomato sauce. As I mentioned, it's a great staple to store and use in your other cooking. So, what are some things to do with all that tomato deliciousness?

Well, making pasta sauce is probably the easiest and most obvious. Sometimes I'll find myself with odds and ends of food left over from other cooking that would go perfectly in a sauce. For instance, I recently found myself with a single sausage link, an onion, and most of a container of shiitake mushrooms. No way was I letting that go to waste!

Pasta sauce

Note: That's right. There's no set ingredient list for this one. Just go with what you have. In this case, it's going to be sausage, onion, and mushroom sauce. You can just as easily do something mouthwatering with spinach, squash, ground turkey or beef - the possibilities really are almost endless here. If you can envision it going with tomatoes, it probably will!

1. If you're using meat, brown that first over medium heat and then saute items such as onions or mushrooms in the juices.

2. Turn your heat down to medium-low and add tomato sauce until you've got things to a consistency that you like. This is also where you might want to add softer veggies like squash, spinach, etc.. so that they can heat up along with the sauce but not get overcooked.

3. Season the sauce to taste. For instance, since sausage already carries a lot of flavor, I just threw in a little oregano and marjoram and called it a day. If you're using more vegetables and little/no meat, you might want to add in more herbs such as basil, rosemary or sage. Some folks also like the zing that comes from a dash of red pepper.

Bon appetit!

And where there's pasta, there's
I usually try to get a pretty, pristine food shot, but my husband was in a big hurry to get into this dish! :)

Basic lasagna

Lasagna can be a bit of a production, so most folks wouldn't think of it as a way to dispose of leftovers.  However, in its most basic and nonfussy form, it really makes a delicious leftovers dish!

1 pkg. lasagna noodles
at least 1 cup tomato sauce, plus addition 2 T. of sauce
veggies of your choice - I had an eggplant and container of artichoke hearts on hand so guess what I used?
1/2 - 1 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped - red onion gives best flavor here
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella

1. If using vegetables such as eggplant or squash, cut into cubes and steam in steamer basket on stovetop, about 6 minutes.  Drain and set aside in colander to cool.

2. Heat the olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

3. Take skillet off heat and cover.  Let sit for about 5 minutes to steam onions.  While onions steaming, if you are using mushrooms or artichoke hearts, take this time to coarsely chop them.

4. Combine eggplant/squash with onion, tomato sauce and artichoke hearts.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

5. Cook lasagna noodles as directed on package, drain and leave sitting in colander for assembly.

6. Spoon 2 T. of tomato sauce into bottom of your baking dish and spread it out.

7.  Assemble as follows: layer of noodles, layer of sauce/veggie mixture spooned over noodles, layer of shredded cheese.  I like to finish with extra shredded cheese on top.  Fresh basil or oregano is also nice, but not 100% necessary.

8. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 50-60 minutes.  Uncover and bake additional 5-7 minutes.  Enjoy!

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  If you're feeling creative, you could also use your sauce in chicken parmesan, as a base for a good tomato-vegetable soup - have fun!


  1. I'm feeling very hungry now. :) Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  2. Looks delicious. I am a leftover queen too. Love to use up everything!