Land of Leftovers

One of the fastest ways to get dinner on the table in minutes is to have some leftover sauces on hand in the refrigerator or freezer. With a tasty sauce ready to use, all you need to do is boil some pasta and add any meats or veggies you like and dinner is done! So, with that in mind, this month we're focusing on how to make sure you can have one or two of your favorite sauces on hand.

The key to making sauces -- at least to me -- is making sure that you've made too much. That is, you need to plan for leftovers. When making sauces, the difference between making 2 cups and making 2 quarts is very little and the time saving later is amazing. I use the same ideology when making stocks, soups or stews. It seems rare that they wouldn't be appreciated later in the week, month or year!

Of course, not all sauces store well. This is especially true when it comes to freezing. In general, sauces with large amounts of cream or cheese should be used quickly and shouldn't be frozen. On the other hand, tomato-based sauces freeze well and tend to be highly versatile. For instance, what started out as a great spaghetti sauce can become the base for a great pizza or an accompaniment to stuffed cabbage rolls. It's all up to you and your imagination.

There are three favorite sauce recipes included in this article to start you out on your sauce-making adventures. Enjoy them and feel free to mix and match ingredients to suit your family's personal preferences. After all, the worst you can do is not make enough!

As always, I look forward to hearing from you about your favorite sauces and storage ideas. You can always post comments in the BBS using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

Simple White Sauce

This easy white sauce can become the base of so many favorites. Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese and you'll get a simple alfredo sauce. Toss with fresh veggies and pasta and ... presto! You've got primavera!
  • 4 T. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 4 c. skim milk
  • 4 T. butter or margarine

In a medium saucepan, combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper; using a wire whisk, stir in the milk until smooth. Add the butter or margarine. Stirring constantly with rubber spatula, bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and boil 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

  • Yields: about 4 cups sauce
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Mushroom Sauce

A mix of rich mushroom extract and sweet maple syrup makes for a wonderful mushroom sauce that's great with steak or even on burgers.
  • 1/2 c. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. minced onions
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 2 T. water

Place the mushrooms in 2 1/2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and rinse. Chop them finely and reserve them for the sauce. Strain the mushroom extract.

Combine the onions, 1/2 cup water, salt, syrup, pepper and parsley in a saucepan. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the mushroom extract and chopped mushrooms and bring to a boil. Mix the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and cook and stir until thickened. Taste for seasoning.

  • Yields: 3 cups sauce
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Olive and Mushroom Tomato Sauce

There's nothing quite like a fresh tomato sauce. What makes this one special is the addition of plump portabella mushrooms and ripe black olives.
  • 6 lb. ripe, sweet tomatoes
  • 3 T. virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion; thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb. chopped portabella mushrooms
  • 1 c. sliced black olives
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped basil leaves

Wash the tomatoes well; then cut them into sixths or, if they are large, into eighths. Warm the olive oil in a large, flat stainless-steel or non-stick pan; add the tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, olives, salt to taste and basil. Cook over gentle heat until the skins are wrinkled and have cooked away from the flesh, about 30 minutes. Pass them through a food mill. Check the consistency; if you wish a thicker sauce, return it to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until it is the thickness you prefer. Add salt to taste and freeze.

  • Yields: 1 quart sauce
  • Preparation Time: 45-60 minutes