When it comes to successful (and creative) cooking, the secret’s in the sauce. With a good sauce, you can build many different meals and snacks — from pasta and pizza to stuffed veggies and delicious dips!
Over the years, I’ve perfected several sauce recipes that have garnered the hungry-kid-and-husband seal of approval. (No small feat!) I like to make them on Sundays so I can easily assemble various meals throughout the week — because less time spent cooking means more time spent with the family!
1. Pesto, Zucker Style
1. Add basil and nuts to food processor and pulse a few times to break down. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
2. Cashew Cheese
1. Soak cashews for about an hour, or overnight; drain.
2. Add all ingredients to food processor and blend well. For a thinner consistency, add more water.
- For a cheese plate, add a little honey and lavender, omitting nutritional yeast and parsley.
- For more of an herb cheese, add additional chopped herbs (such as chives, basil or thyme) and reduce the amount of nutritional yeast.
3. Red Sauce
Olive oil or vegetable broth
Large onion, chopped
2 to 3 celery ribs, chopped
1 to 2 carrots, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (24 oz.) jar strained tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Herbs of choice (oregano, basil, bay leaf, etc.)
Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Browned/seasoned meat, 1/4 pound each (optional): pork, lamb, veal, sweet Italian chicken sausage
Optional: Additional veggies, chopped (mushrooms, zucchini, squash, spinach–use whatever’s leftover in your refrigerator!)
1. In large sauce pot, saute vegetables in olive oil or vegetable broth until slightly softened.
2. Add a small amount of wine, water or vegetable broth. Add garlic, tomatoes and herbs/spices/salt/pepper to taste. Let sauce simmer for one hour, adding a dash of balsamic vinegar and pinch of sugar if desired.
3. Add browned/seasoned meat and simmer for another 45 minutes.
- For a thicker sauce, add ¼ cup tomato paste.
- Before adding meat, I remove some of the sauce in order to have a vegan portion.
- This sauce freezes well—just pack it in a freezer-safe container!
Dana Zucker is a home cook that likes to do it her way! She gets creative with nutritious ingredients to keep her active family—teenage twins and a vegan, triathlete husband—healthy and happy. Cooking with organic, local and whole food ingredients is key, whether she’s whipping up an early-morning breakfast, prepping afterschool snacks or getting dinner on the table at 10 p.m. Dana says, “We do eat out sometimes, and even cheat with some pre-made foods. But I try to balance making delicious foods with the reality of a busy schedule.” Dana’s recipes are a great starting point to find a style of cooking that works for your family. Her advice? Keep it real—and keep it easy!