Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pantry Staple - Marinara Sauce

(intentional leftovers:  red sauce with eggplant)

One of the most common reasons that people give me for not eating like I do is that it is far too time consuming.  Generally people are surprised to learn that I do not spend hours in the kitchen and that I don’t even cook every day.  I can make this happen using a few tricks and techniques. One is that I intentionally overcook when I do cook. Those of you who have been reading me a while know that I refer to this as making “intentional leftovers” and it makes my life SO much easier.  I keep these intentional leftovers in both the refrigerator and freezer.  Additionally I keep items in the refrigerator which have multiple uses.  For example when I make red sauce (marinara as we refer to it in the US) I always make a large quantity because if freezes beautifully and it has many uses.

Why cook your own red sauce when you can buy jarred?

Depending on the brand of red sauce you buy it can have HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), too much sodium, added oil and it is not uncommon for it has either cheese or meat.  Sometimes it contains chemicals and preservatives also.

Not only will undoubtedly contain at least one thing that you don’t want it to have it may not be flavored the way you like. I solve all these problems by making my own red sauce.  You can simmer you sauce on the sauce, put it in a crock pot or make it in a pressure cooker. As you probably guessed I make mine in the pressure cooker these days because it is the quickest and easiest for me.

(farro topped with tomato and bean sauce topped with parsley)

What can you do with red sauce other than use it with pasta?

(whole wheat pasta with summer squash, seitan sausage and peppers)

In America red sauce is almost predominantly found on past and that is a shame because it works with so many things.  I almost always add some variations of vegetables, mushrooms and beans to it and use it alone (with more veg like my pizza veggies) or on top of any cooked whole grain (which I also make in large quantities) and top it with nutritional yeast or walnut parm.

(Green salad topped with defrosted veggies, marinara sauce, and raw pumpkin seeds)

Another use for red sauce that happens often at my house is to use it cold for salad dressing the same way you have seen me use salsa. It makes a very flavorful non-fat dressing to moisten salad.

(zucchini spaghetti with creamy tomato sauce and artichokes)

You can take a little marinara sauce and combine it with raw cashews and make a creamy salad dressing.

(Pizza topped with red sauce, veggies, fresh arugula and sriracha)

Red sauce it great if you want to make homemade vegan pizza or calzones.

(pureed tomato soup topped with dandelion walnut pesto and olives)

I use the red sauce as a base for soups if I want an Italian flavor.  For example you can combine red sauce, raw cashews and other seasonings in your Vitamix and make a delicious cream of tomato soup. But you can also use the red sauce like you would canned tomatoes to start soup.

I hope hearing what I do with red sauce gives you insight into its many uses.

Happy thoughts:
  1. Friday was a crazy day at my house. I was expecting it to be low key and relaxed but it turned out to be anything but that. However I am happy to say that it was nonetheless a good day.  I managed to get a few things accomplished with was a miracle given my day.  :-)
  2. We woke up to a beautiful light snow fall just before dawn.  Mother Nature puts on quite a show doesn’t she?  I never get tired to seeing the beauty in nature. I hope you find time to enjoy it too.
  3. Dan actually came home at a reasonable hour for dinner on Friday which was nice.  :-)  However he did this because he has to work on Saturday so that happy thought could be better.  ;-)
  4. I made a quick delicious curried tomato sauce with “almond coconut milk”, frozen veggies and previously cooked chickpeas.  I added fresh cilantro and whole wheat pasta and topped it with some sliced almonds. Dinner was ready in the amount of time it took to cook the pasta. Darn I love meals that come together that quickly and easily!
  5. My father was busy today obsessing over a minor medical procedure next Tuesday.  While this isn’t easy for the rest of us to deal with it does remind me how lucky I am that I don’t make mountains out of molehills like I used to.  That was a difficult habit to break but it made such a huge difference in overall level of happiness.
  6. We reached our high temperature in the morning on Friday and it got progressively colder throughout the day.  I don’t have to tell you that I stayed in today do I?  LOL
  7. Today I got a serious bargain on two items at Zulily (again). The first was a faux leather jacket in orange.  The second was orange and fuchsia patent leather pumps. Both are pictures bellowed. The best part of this is not only are they cute but with shipping I spent less than $100.  If you enjoy a good bargain please check out Zulily. I have gotten some great deals here and you all know I don’t need any baby or kid stuff.  ;-)
(Curried veg and ceci in tomato sauce over whole wheat pasta - Dan's dinner on Friday)

(my new orange faux leather jacket)

(my new orange and fuchsia patent leather pumps)

Signing out:

I didn’t sleep well at all last night so I am definitely looking forward to getting some rest tonight.  It is funny how you take sleep for granted when you get plenty of it and miss it terribly when you don’t get enough.  ;-)

Tomorrow I have a few things to accomplish and Dan has to go to the office. However I should have time to write a post.  *fingers crossed*  Let’s all hope the ground predicts the end of winter and that the little rodent is correct. Ciao for now.


  1. Very good blog post and information. As always, your dishes look soooo yummy! :)

    1. Thanks Angel,

      You are very sweet. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. :-)


  2. Ali, I'd love to know what your basic pressure-cooker tomato sauce recipe is! And - do you can it? Or just freeze/refrigerate it to store?

    1. Gloria,

      Good questions. I need to make more sauce very soon. I will measure everything that I use so that I can share my sauce in an upcoming post. I have canned tomato sauce before but don't do it now since summer time (when tomatoes are in season) I am too busy on the boat to be canning food.


  3. LOVE tomato sauce! Did you use your Vitamix to make your curried tomato sauce the other night? Did you cook it on the stove, or just thaw the beans/veggies and mix them in?

    1. Hello Laura,

      Last night the curried sauce was prepared on top the stove. I simmered it while the water heated for the pasta. I used canned tomatoes and added spices, onions, garlic and thawed veggies and beans. Cilantro went in after the pasta was tossed with the sauce. Slice almonds went on top at the end. :-) HOpe that helps.


  4. Ummm...yes, please!

    You've got me starvin' here. Haha!

    1. Sorry Chubby,

      On the bright side you are craving the healthy stuff. ;-)


  5. Funny! I was just telling my mom yesterday to try makong sayce instead of buying the jarred kind. I think I convinced her, but we'll see. :)

    Random question: do you cook much with kohlrabi? It keeps coming in my CSA share, and I've yet to find a preparation I like. I didn't see much in your archives so thought I'd ask.

    1. Brigid,

      That is so funny because I say the same thing to my mother and she is Italian, so no excuse. I usually end of sending sauce to her. LOL, hopefully your mom listens to you. ;-)

      I don't cook much with kohlrabi but only because I never think of it. Kohlrabi is a wonderful vegetable, part of the cruciferous family so it is very healthy. Generally I either shave or grate it and then marinate it. It is also nice cut into sticks like you would jicama to use with dips. My favorite ways to use it is thinly shaved then either quickly pickled (with other veggies) or marinated in fresh lemon juice and Italian seasoning. It is good in slaw too. I hope that helped you. :-) Great question though since it isn't a common veggie. I should try to work on more recipes for it.

      Hope you are having a wonderful Saturday,

    2. My mom hates cooking. No other reason. I am slowly trying to influence change, but you know how that goes.

      Thanks for the tips! I may try it raw and marinated this time. I have not been fond of the cooked consistency, so hopefully the crunch will be up our alley.

    3. Brigid,

      My mom hates cooking too! I always say that is why I learned how to cook, so I wouldn't starve. LOL Good luck with your mom. I have had zero success with mine. ;-)

      I don't know that I have had kohlrabi cooked now that you mention it. I will be seeing chef Ian this week and will pick his brain on what do to with Kohlrabi and will let you know. If anyone has good ideas for how to use it, it will be Ian.

      talk with you soon,


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