Saturday, April 8, 2017

Cook Once, Eat All Week: Red Sauce

This is the first in a series of posts that I will be making documenting ways to reduce your time in the kitchen and reduce waste and save money while you are at it. 

These are the things you can do with the sauce once it is complete:

Ziti with sauce and meat
Italian sausage subs
Meatball subs
Chicken Parmesan
Eggs in marinara

The main recipe will take a good portion of the day to cook, but the good news is that it is mostly hands off time as the sauce simmers away.

2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped or shredded
6 cloves minced garlic (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoon anchovy paste (or a couple whole anchovies)
1 small can of tomato paste
6 ounces of wine (or one single serve bottle) Use the wine you like to have with red sauce. I often use a white wine because that is what I have. I have also used Merlot with a good outcome. This is an optional ingredient, you can use the broth to deglaze the pan too if desired)
2 cups chicken broth or homemade stock. (you can substitute veggie stock here if you wish)
3 28 ounce cans of whole or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons dry Italian seasoning

Heat the oil in a good sized dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pan. This can also be done in a slow cooker if yours gets hot enough to saute in.
Add the onions and carrots and a good pinch of salt, saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often. The onions should get less opaque and even a bit browned. Add in the garlic and stir until you get a good whiff of cooked garlic smell.

Add the anchovies or anchovy paste and cook and stir until fully incorporated with the vegetables.
Add the tomato paste, stir and cook until incorporated. The bottom of the pan should have a thick coating on it, but not burned.
Deglaze the pan with the wine by adding it to the pan and scraping the bottom to loosen all the bits. Allow to boil down until good and thick. 
Stir in the chicken broth. Mix well and add the 3 cans of tomatoes. If they are whole tomatoes, chop them up first. Don't forget to add the liquid the tomatoes were canned in. Stir in the seasonings and another big pinch of salt.
Bring it all to a simmer, put on the lid off center (I prop it with a wooden spoon) and lower the heat to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for four hours or more, stirring occasionally. It will need more attention towards the end of the simmering.
When done cooking, adjust for salt and seasoning by tasting it.
Blend the whole thing with an immersion blender. If you do not have an immersion blender (a stick blender) you can do this in a regular blender, but be careful as blending hot things in a stand blender can be messy and hot.

While that is simmering, you will want to get started on the meatballs, which are super easy.


2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (this can be omitted, but will make up for the texture that ground veal would normally add) Mix with 1/4 cup of cold water and let sit for a few minutes before adding.
1 finely chopped onion (about 1/2 to 3/4 a cup)
4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs, I prefer to use panko, but regular plain will do.
1 egg
2 big pinches of salt
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Mix together the bread crumbs and egg and let sit for 5 minutes.
Add in the rest of the ingredient and mix gently with your hands until fully incorporated. Over mixing can make the meatballs tough, so you want everything mixed, but with a gentle touch so that the meat doesn't get warmed up.
Roll 2 inch meatballs. To do so, first, dampen your hands with water and place some of the meat mixture in the palm of your hand. Roll until a ball forms. I like to use a cookie scooper that holds about 2 tablespoons to keep everything uniform.  Keep your hands slightly wet to avoid having everything stick to your hands.
Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. You want them cooked through, but they can be slightly underdone as the rest of the cooking will happen in the sauce.
Put the meatballs in the sauce and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or so.

One more thing to do is to cut the Italian sausages in half (sweet or hot, whatever your preference, but hot ones will add heat to your sauce). Brown them nicely in a hot pan and add to the sauce to cook with the meatballs.

Meal 1

Ziti with Red Sauce and Meat
Bread, preferable a nice crusty bread. You can make the dough in advance and freeze it in quantities, or just go ahead and buy a loaf.

Side salad would be ideal, but lets get real. The sauce is full of veggies anyway.

Meal 2

Italian Sausage Subs with Peppers and Onions
Sweet Potato Fries

Meal 3

Meatball Subs with sauce and mozzarella

Meal 4

Chicken Parmesan: Fry up some breaded chicken breasts Recipe:
Butterfly and pound one pound of boneless chicken breasts
Put some dry bread crumbs in a bag and season with salt, pepper and italian seasonings.
In a dish, beat an egg with a little milk or water
Put 1/2 cup of flour in a dish and season well with salt and pepper
put a chicken piece in the flour and lightly cover it, shaking off all the excess. Then put it in the egg wash and place the cutlet in the bag of crumbs. Shake the bag to cover the cutlets well.
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a skillet. When hot and the butter is no longer foamy, add the cutlets and cook on medium high until browned and crispy. Turn and finish cooking. 2 minutes per side (approximately) Remove to towel lined plate (paper towels, torn up paper bags or just a cake rack will do) After draining, place in a baking dish. If doing this ahead of time, pop them in the freezer until ready to use. You can also use pre-made cutlets if efficiency is more important than saving money, so it depends on your needs.
Place the cutlets in a baking dish and top with some grated Parmesan and mozzarella over the top. Melt in a hot oven (425 for hot, fresh made cutlets. Follow package instructions for frozen)
Serve on a bed of pasta and top with sauce. 
Serve with a vegetable, a nice salad or some green beans that have been tossed with olive oil, garlic and some toasted bread crumbs.

Meal 5

Eggs in marinara: Put about 2 inches worth of sauce in a skillet and heat to a simmer. Break some eggs into it, 2 per person. Cover and let cook 5 minutes, or more until the eggs are done to your liking. Top with a touch of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt if desired.
Serve with crusty bread and a vegetable of your choice.

Meal 6

Pizza: Use some of that frozen dough we talked about, or pick up some ready made stuff. Pillsbury puts out one that is pretty passable. Another option is if you have some of that crusty bread left, slice it in half lengthwise and lightly oil the cut sides. Use this as the base for some french bread pizza. Heat the oven to 425 to bake. A regular type of pizza will take about 15 minutes tops in a heated oven. The bread type varies in time, so keep an eye on it. Top the pizzas anyway you wish before baking. Left over meats from the sauce? Some veggies or canned things you would like to get rid of? Put them on the pizza with a good amount of mozzarella cheese (and a touch of cheddar or Swiss if you have it) and you have a delicious meal.

If you are keeping the sauce for more than four days (which is probable as there are at least five meals in there), measure out some of the sauce for the freezer in meal sized portions, for safety sake. Don't forget to freeze any meatballs or sausages that won't get used quickly. 

Grocery List:


2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 pounds Italian sausage, hot or mild or a mix.
1 pound chicken breasts


2 lbs onions
3 heads garlic (or more)
1 lb carrots
1/2 pound green beans
flat leaf parsley
Salad fixings: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, whatever you like)
Bell peppers (red, green, orange and/or yellow)
2 large sweet potatoes (also marketed as "yams")


3- 28 ounce cans crushed or whole tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
Anchovy paste
32 ounces chicken broth
6 ounces of wine (do NOT use cooking wine)
Panko bread crumbs
Italian seasoning
Unflavored gelatin (optional)
Salad dressing if you don't make your own
Crusty bread
8 Sub rolls
Dough for pizza if not making yourself


Parmesan cheese
16 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 dozen eggs
Additional cheddar or Swiss as desired for the pizza

Ingredients assumed in pantry: salt, pepper, cooking oil, olive oil (preferably extra virgin, good quality, but that is optional)


  1. Replies
    1. I have never been big on red sauce, probably due to over exposure as a kid LOL, but this one is really good. I have been making it for several years now and I feel I have to perfected to my taste anyway. :)

  2. Sounds really good! The only change I would make is that I would add - before the simmering begins - a few pinches of crushed fennel seeds. It's a taste you don't identify because it's not that strong ..... but I miss it when it's not there.