Listen up readers, foodies, friends and followers. This girl is about to change your world—and your ways. Unless you’re a family member or close friend reading this—in which case, you are already a proud owner and hopefully avid follower of this recipe—I need your full attention!
Let me say that again.
Perhaps THE most important staple in every Italian kitchen. Though arguably, this valuable condiment (can I call it a condiment?) should span cross-culturally in culinary importance. It’s a kitchen asset that can transform any dish that calls for it—from your standard spaghetti, to homemade square pizza (recipe to come for the latter).
So here’s what this post boils down to: MAKE YOUR OWN SAUCE AND USE IT.
Don’t tell me Ragu or Prego, or whatever those cheap, jarred brands are called, is “easier.” Don’t tell me it’s worth it because you’re buying an organic or 100% all-natural variation. It takes 30 minutes to cook sauce. I will not accept “time” or the “convenience” of overly processed, heavily salted, pre-packaged jars of muck, ridden with a laundry list of additives as your excuse. Instead of wasting your time and effort paying for what any real Italian would deem “garbage,” you should be taking advantage of that time by putting a pot of sauce on the stove. And there’s my #ROTD (rant of the day). #itllcatchon
All Italians make sauce differently, and claim theirs is “the best.” Being that I am 75% Italian, I will justify making that claim, knowing mine is backed by a simple fact—that our family’s recipe really is…THE BEST.
Some people add tons of oregano, basil, garlic, and every other Italian seasoning but the kitchen sink. Our family does not.
The incredible taste of our sauce, stems from simplicity and pureness of the ingredients used.
Call it a southern Sicilian strategy, if you’d like. But in the words of my very own adorable, 4-foot-something Italian grandmother, “I tell you the truth.” It’s a strategy that works. Timeless, tasty, tried-and-true, I pass this recipe on to you!
*If you cannot find the Kitchen Ready variety, buy Italian Whole Peeled Tomatoes and puree them in a blender; they will be more watery, so you will not need to add any extra water to the sauce.
My mom is an extreme couponer…minus the extreme couponing. Fortunately, our wholesale club like inventory of certain products (namely sauce, paper towels, napkins, and expired soda we buy for family gatherings but never drink) does not span to the bedrooms and closets in the house.
This explains why we have a substantial stock of Pastene ‘Kitchen Ready’ Tomatoes always available in the garage. They’re so hard to find around here that online bulk buys are the only solution to maintaing our two 12-pack minimum at all times.
When mom first started making cornbread, she followed Betty Crocker’s recipe to a “t.” (I really still don’t get that expression). But then, as she continued to go back to her beloved cookbook—I’m talkin’, the original, so old it had to be hole-punched and transferred to a 3-inch D-Ring binder Betty—she realized it could be better. That she could make it better. And she did. #KitchenKudos
Best part about her committed culinary endeavors? The new version of Betty Crocker’s cookbook made the exact same modifications to the cornbread recipe, as founded by my mom!
To this day, it is believed that Betty and her publishers changed the recipe in the cookbook after (and because of) my ingenious mother, Ang.
Just go with it.
*We’ve always used Quaker’s corn meal, since we’re brand loyal to their oats. Until we recently discovered that the Indian Head brand yields an even moister corn bread! Highly recommend you use it! This product is a taste and texture game-changer. It will make you say, ”I think I’ll have a second piece!”
And if you’re not saying it, that’s ok. You’ve already made the mental move.
Alright let’s just be honest, I hope your second piece was even better than the first. No need to question it. :)
I love the blogosphere. Helloooo blanket Gen-Y statement. But really. It’s amazing. It’s such a great way to share anything and everything—food, friends, fitness, thoughts, ideas, passion, ambition, motivation, inspiration, innovation, interests, anecdotes…you name it!
Oh, and how could I forget, RECIPES! :) I’m enthused when I hear back from my followers, or see people liking and re-blogging my kitchen creations. The truth is, we can all learn from and teach one another when it comes to culinary. And the great thing about it? There’s always more than one way to do something. Yes, baking is the science, cooking is the art. Yes, yes, I know. But can you not substitute Buttermilk with skim milk and distilled white vinegar? You can! See what I mean? Always more than one way. And that’s a wonderful thing. So, as I teach you—my wonderful followers—I hope you’ll be inspired to teach me, too. Be it food or fitness, tidbit or technique. Let’s share it all.
With that being said, Trainer Jack was loving my home-made Ratatouille pictures, so I promised I’d share the recipe. Another great thing about this recipe in particular, is that veggies are versatile. You don’t have to only use squash and zucchini. If you like broccoli, or cauliflower—dare to dabble ‘em! Think about colors, taste and textures, and let it guide your veggie variety. That’s why I chose to add cauliflower this time; different color, different texture. And I loved the turnout!
Remember, no veg is a bad veg—except mushrooms or eggplant. They may change the taste and I would advise to proceed with caution if you decide to go there. But again, be adventurous. I advocate creative cooking!
For my most recent variation, follow the recipe below. If you try other combinations, please let me know how it turns out! Jack—this is for you! :)
I prefer to serve it with 1/2c steel cut oats, but we also enjoy it with whole grain pasta! Or, insert your whole grain of choice here. :)
*This was the first time I made my Ratatouille using this new, chunky tomato variety. I loved the chunky-ness of the dish, but wish I had a bit more liquid/tomato. Next time I would use 1 can chunky, plus 1/2 to 1 can of Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes.
Note: Normally, we use just 1 can of the Kitchen Ready Tomatoes—and if you have a fair amount of vegetables (typically we use 4-5 medium zucchini and 4-5 yellow squash), the 1 can of Kitchen Ready works great!
Making Ratatouille in Maw Maw’s homey, Texas kitchen. (1/21/2010)