I think that, when cooking, it's always great to have a few basic recipes and techniques that you can tweak 9,372 different ways to easily create different meals without a recipe.
Regular tomato sauce sauce is a GREAT recipe to have in your back pocket for just such occasions!
Making your own tomato sauce is SO easy and cheaper than buying the jarred stuff. Once you learn how you can alter it lots of ways to make different meals and snacks.
Here's what I use:
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- ½ tsp EACH salt, sugar, and crushed red pepper
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 large can tomatoes (crushed, whole, or diced. Your choice!)
- Add to angel hair pasta and top with Parmesan cheese - easy, simple, wonderful.
- Separately, saute one bell pepper (any color) and ½ lb Italian sausage (spicy or sweet) then add to the sauce at the end and serve over rigatoni. Stir in cubed provolone cheese and call it Philly Cheese Pasta!
- Caprese: use only half the can of tomatoes and make the sauce as directed. When it's done, stir in ½ cup torn fresh basil, 2 chopped fresh tomatoes, and ½ cup cubed fresh mozarella. Serve over your favorite pasta.
- Spaghetti (duh): Add 1 lb browned ground beef to the sauce and serve over spaghetti topped with Parmesan.
- Spoon the sauce over Crispy Dredged Chicken - YUM.
- Spoon sauce over crusty bread and top with your favorite mild cheese, then put under the broiler to melt. Serve with a green salad for a light dinner.
- Pizza Sauce: Dice the onion finely when making the sauce and add ½ teaspoon dried or crushed oregano when you add the sugar.
- Vodka Sauce: When you add the wine and tomatoes, add ½ cup vodka and simmer for 20 minutes. After simmering, add ½ cup half and half or cream and stir. Serve with penne, top with shaved Parm and torn basil leaves.
- Mexican: to finished sauce, add ½ ground beef, 1 teaspoon chili powder, ½ teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1 dash cayenne pepper. Stir in cooked short pasta (penne, macaroni, rigatoni), and top with shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, diced fresh tomatoes, and sour cream.
- Mediterranean Fish: only use ¾ can tomatoes and add ¼ cup chicken stock or water to the sauce. Stir in 2 tablespoons each chopped capers and black olives, and spoon over grilled fish.