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Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Saucy Little Summer


While my heart maybe in the homemade, my life is definitely the hectic. Your's too?


That is why I rely on sauces to make a quick meal something really special.

The garden in it's full glory and the tomatoes are just starting to come in. There is basil to make into pesto and chimichurri is going to be the newest sauce added the  repertoire. These sauces are invaluable to me during the winter months. Coming home to a big crockpot full of bean soup with three pesto cubes thrown in it turns it from "just supper" to something really gourmet. In a pinch, boil pasta, drain it, put in a little oil and 3 or 4 cubes of pesto and dinner is ready.

So here are two of the prime sauces I use to get dinner on the table when I don't have a lot of time to cook:

Fresh from the garden,  you can actually pronounce every ingredient!

Spaghetti sauce is one of the first sauces I learned to make when I moved here many moons ago. It's also one of the sauces I'm teaching my son to make. With a large Italian population in Rochester, it's almost a prerequisite that you learn how to make a fresh sauce. Take a look at the ingredients, see any cans? No. This is straight from the garden to the pot. After making this on a regular basis, try a jar of can sauce. It's definitely not the same. I grew up eating a lot of jarred sauces and now I just really can't. They taste "musty" at best. Even the sauce I canned doesn't taste that way. Makes you really start to wonder how fresh and what is in that sauce you just bought from the grocery.

Please forgive the shadow.
Olive oil
1 large onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2-3 quarts of tomatoes (at least) chopped
1/4c -1/2 c wine (red or white, your choice)
2 Tbsp sugar
2-4 Tbsp fresh basil and oregano (I just eyeball it)
Salt and pepper
OPTIONAL: mushrooms, garden veggies.

I'm going to let you in on an ongoing argument my spouse and I have. He likes a sweet sauce, I like a savory sauce. The difference in the two is not the sugar. It's the onion. If you like a sweet sauce, add more onion. If you like more of a savory sauce, less.
No being a big onion fan myself, less is more in this case.

Heat a large sauce pot on the stove and pour in about 3 Tbsp of olive oil (remember, hot pan, cold oil food doesn't stick (per the Frugal Gourmet).Chop your onion in fine pieces and cook them in the pan until they become transluscent. Just before they reach that stage completely, put in your garlic. Garlic burns easy so you don't want to start it until your onions are almost done or it'll be burned by the time you get there.... and there really isnt' anything worse then burned garlic. If you are adding any garden produce, add it at this point until it's crisp tender.
From this...

Now add your wine, sugar and tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes begin to slump, maybe 5 mins. Add your herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over your favorite pasta, chicken, etc.

To this .. in half an hour or less.


Pesto is the one sauce I can't live without. During the growing season I make up a batch about once a week freezing it in ice cube trays and then transferring them to large freezer storage bags. Pesto can be used in just about any recipe that calls for fresh basil. It shows up in Italian as readily as my bean soup. I love it.

Very simple ingredients help to make any dish gourmet.

Bunch of fresh basil            
2-3 tsp of minced garlic
Olive oil
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of your favorite nuts

Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and grind to combine.

As it grinds, add olive oil to create a paste.

Stop the food processor and scrape down sides as you go. Take this time to add more basil if you'd like.

Transfer to your ice cube trays to freeze into cubes.

A little bit of prep in the summer makes those winter days a little nicer and easier to deal with. A bit of summer sunshine on a bleak February day can get you through until spring comes again.


  1. Good Morning Stacey, I am popping over from Mix it Up Monday to discover we are kindred spirits as I always make my own pasta sauce....there is nothing like homemade and your homemade sauce looks delicious.
    I also make my own pesto, but I have never frozen it, so when I pick all my basil leaves I am going to try your method.
    It is lovely to enjoy a little summer flavour during the winter.
    Stacey I have enjoyed my visit and I have become a new follower with Google +
    Have a lovely day.
    Best Wishes from England.

  2. So glad to have you visit (I love England, we visited there in 1987 and I've never felt more at home!). I just finished canning our first batch of spaghetti sauce last night. I swear I have a canning addiction! If I can put it in a jar, I'll can it! Glad to hear that there are others out there with my addiction!