There are many items that can be used to pull together a few ingredients and turn them into dinner, but none is more heroic than a can (or 2) of tomato sauce.
I love using all the canned tomato products, because they are so versatile. But my favorite is tomato sauce. I try to never run out of this unsung hero of the canned food world. Here are 10 ways that tomato sauce can rescue your dinner.
1. Pasta Sauce – Yes, it’s the most obvious. Sauté a chopped onion and some crushed garlic in a bit of olive oil. Stir in the tomato sauce, oregano, basil, thyme, salt and pepper, a pinch of sugar to tame the acidity. Let it simmer for a bit while the pasta cooks. If you have more time and want to follow a recipe, check out Grandma’s Spaghetti Sauce in the Slow Cooker.
2. Pizza Sauce – The second most obvious, but so quick to make and you can use it for so many things. Make this the same way you made the pasta sauce. Or if you’re in a real hurry open a can of tomato sauce and sprinkle in garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Taste to see if you want a pinch of sugar or more of the other seasonings. Use this sauce on pizza crust or French bread pizzas.
3. Dip – Use either the quick version or cooked version as a dip with cheese flatbread (a prepared pizza crust sprinkled with cheese and baked). You can also dip stromboli slices in this.
4. Italian Rice Casserole – Layer cooked rice with seasoned tomato sauce (like above), shredded mozzarella cheese and browned ground turkey, beef or sausage. Bake in the oven till it’s hot all the way through.
5. Italian Style Chicken – Top chicken breasts with the same seasoned tomato sauce. Sprinkle with cheese and bake. If you’re in a big hurry, use frozen breaded chicken patties.
6. Enchilada Sauce – Make it simple by stirring garlic powder, salt and pepper into the tomato sauce. Use that to top chicken and cheese enchiladas.
If you want a more complex sauce, sauté finely chopped onion in oil till soft. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Use this sauce to top chicken, beef or bean enchiladas.
7. Tomato “gravy” – Season a can of tomato sauce with diced onion and celery, salt and pepper. Pour over pork chops, meatballs, chopped steak etc and bake till done.
8. Tex Mex style soup – Add broth or water to a can or two of tomato sauce. Stir in cumin, chili powder, garlic powder. You can add chicken, beef, beans, corn or tomatoes. Here’s a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup, if you don’t want to experiment.
9. Italian style soup – Add broth or water to 1 or 2 cans of tomato sauce. Stir in sautéed onion and garlic. Add basil, oregano, thyme, carrots, cooked pasta or white beans. Here’s a Pasta Soup I made one night when a can of tomato sauce saved our dinner.
10. Vegetable soup – Add broth or water to tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and stir in diced carrots, potatoes, celery, parsnips, corn, beans, barley, rice, pasta etc. You can add beef or chicken to make it heartier. Season with salt and pepper any herbs such as thyme and parsley.
What ingredient do you use most to pull a quick dinner together?
Tiffany King writes the blog Eat at Home, Everyday Food for Busy People. She shares recipes, cooking tips and weekly menus with a complete grocery list and printable recipes. Four kids and a husband keep her busy, so she knows the importance of getting dinner on the table quick.