When I empty a container of spaghetti sauce, I don't let any of the residue remaining in the jar to go to waste either. I scrape out as much as I can with a rubber spatula, and then I pour about a quarter cup of water in the jar, screw the lid back on, and shake it until the water dissolves all the sauce remaining in the jar and on the underside of the lid. To that water I add a generous helping of basil and ground pepper and a little salt. I then pour that liquid over chopped vegetables to use as the steaming liquid when I steam in the microwave, such as zucchini or broccoli. The flavored tomato liquid seasons the vegetables very nicely, and I serve them topped with a pat of butter. It's been an effective way to get my boys to eat zucchini.
The used steaming liquid is then added to my stock pot for making chicken or vegetable broth or used in cooking rice or pasta.
I first tried this after reading the cookbook Ruhlman's Twenty (thanks, Mom!), in which the author discusses the uses of different materials and techniques in the kitchen. One idea he explores in his chapter on the use of salt is the importance of seasoning the water used for boiling pasta. Indeed, pasta boiled in broth is delicious, and the broth, now thickened with starch from the pasta, is perfect for using in soups. But if seasoning the water for pasta flavors the water, then seasoning the water for boiling or steaming vegetables might flavor the vegetables, right?
It does. And it's a good way to flavor vegetables that are relatively bland, such as summer squashes. That it helps me use every last drop of tomato sauce is a lovely bonus.
Here's how I make spaghetti sauce. It's the basis for many frugal meals, and having spaghetti once a week really helps keep the grocery budget down.
Basic Tomato Sauce
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1-2 T butter or oil
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1.5-2 c water
Ground black pepper
1 T sherry
A squirt of prepared mustard
- In a pan, heat the oil or melt the butter.
- Add the onion and saute until translucent.
- Stir in the minced garlic and salt, and allow to cook a few minutes more.
- Add the tomato paste and dissolve it in the water. Once the paste is fully incorporated, add the pepper and any of the optional ingredients desired (add to taste).
- Bring to a simmer and reduce to desired consistency.
- Spoon out and freeze 2 Tablespoons to add to soup.
- Divide in half for two separate family dinners, and freeze any that will not be used quickly.