If you know me, it’s no secret that I love toppings of all sorts…especially sauces. You know, ones that really make a dish and leave you wanting to lick your plate inappropriately. Here are some great, must-have, back-pocket sauces that will turn hum-drum dinner into something memorable.
If you know me, it’s no secret that I love toppings of all sorts…especially sauces. You know, ones that really make a dish and leave you wanting to lick your plate inappropriately.
Of course it’s easy enough to buy a sauce already canned or jarred from the grocery store, but there’s just something about a meal when it’s topped with the perfect sauce you’ve made yourself. Here are some great, must-have, back-pocket sauces that will turn hum-drum dinner into something memorable.
My mom’s family is Italian. I don’t know a holiday without the scent of tomato sauce floating in the air. My Memaw taught me her famous recipe years ago, and I remember her every time I make it. It’s not quite the same, not being in her house with her dishes and her hands whirling around the kitchen, but it’s close. This sauce will make you swear off the jarred stuff once and for all. (I hope this isn’t some sort of secret family recipe.)
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes (fresh ones to this equivalent from your garden would of course be preferable)
- 2 cans tomato puree
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 2-3 tbsp. olive oil
- 4-5 cloves fresh garlic
- 1-2 fresh onions
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil or 2 tbsp. fresh, minced
- 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste (add near end of cooking)
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
In a large heated pot with olive oil, add finely chopped onions. When halfway done, add minced garlic. Cook until browned. Add tomato paste and mix well. Then add tomato puree and crushed tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, and basil. Mix well. Cook for at least 6 hours on low heat.
This is a great light sauce that works well with a variety of dishes. It’s super simple, and you can enjoy it on fish (grilled swordfish comes to mind), marinate your chicken or pork in it, dress a pasta salad (noodles, peas, roasted red peppers, fresh Parmesan cheese), or even as a salad dressing.
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp. juice from one lemon
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 medium sized garlic clove, finely minced
Combine all ingredients and whisk in a small bowl.
I realize this topic is a bit controversial: o you like Carolina style, classic red sauce, BBQ with Asian flavors, or Caribbean flavors, ginger BBQ? For me, it’s a little bit of a mix. I found a recipe in Cooks Illustrated awhile back that I’ve used over and over. When I find a crowd-pleaser, I keep it. You can use this either brushed on foods during grilling or served at the table as a dipping sauce for ribs.
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 1/4 c. water
- 1 c. ketchup
- 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 5 tbsp. molasses
- 1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
- 1 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Process the onion with the water in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade until pureed and the mixture resembles slush, about 30 seconds. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula to obtain 1/2 c. juice. Discard the solids.
Whisk the onion juice, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, hot pepper sauce, black pepper, and liquid smoke (if using) together in a medium bowl.
Heat the oil in a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the ketchup mixture and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, until the flavors meld and the sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. Cool the sauce to room temperature before using. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Hot Fudge Sauce
Have I mentioned my relationship with ice cream before? Well, I have one, and it’s a rather devoted affair. I’m a little picky when it comes to my toppings for my ice cream, starting with the chocolate fudge. A friend of the family used to jar this every Christmas and gift it to us growing up. Now that I’m a grownup, I have the recipe, and you can typically count on finding this in our fridge. It stores for months, jars well, and, as I mentioned, makes a great gift.
- 2 oz. semisweet baking chocolate
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 c. boiling water
- 1 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 dash salt
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir in butter, then boiling water, then sugar and salt. Cook stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Either serve immediately or reheat in double boiler for 10 minutes or microwave for 1 minute.