Saucing up your grains

We had a great turn-out for the cooking session of Vegetarianism 101. I gave the participants the chance to test their knowledge of some unusual grains. Can you tell the difference between millet and quinoa, or kasha and bulgur?

One of the participants suggested spending an evening or weekend day making several sauces then freezing them for easy family meals. She said this is a great way of assuring great taste and variety for quick weeknight dinners. Simply add the sauce to the grain or legume and voilá–dinner!

This got me to thinking–what sauces would be good to make for the freezer? Aside from a traditional tomato sauce or pestoRomesco sauce would be delicious. Deborah Madison has an entire section on sauces in her classic book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. She suggests serving sesame sauce over grains or grilled vegies, peanut sauce with tofu and curry sauce with rice or as a base for curried vegetable soup.

Here’s a great marinara sauce recipe to get you started:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4-28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • salt and sugar to taste

Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook unti golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and wine; cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and water; simmer over low heat until the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in cheese and basil. Taste, then season with salt and sugar as needed.

How easy is that? You may want to give these recipes a trial run then double or triple them to store in your freezer. Once your sauce has cooled, ladle it into plastic freezer bags or containers in 1- or 2-cup portions, label with recipe name and date, then lay the bags flat on a sheet tray to freeze. Once they’re frozen solid, you can remove them from the tray and stack them to save on freezer space.

When you come home hungry, you’ll be glad your dinner is nearly done.


1 comment so far

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