Bryan does most of the cooking at our house. We both actually enjoy cooking, and we’re both fairly good. He tends to be a bit more of a traditionalist, whereas I like to try a variety of things. We’re both strong-willed people, but Bryan tends to be the more vocal about his opinions. For that reason, I’ve conceded to letting him cook most nights. I make dinner every Tuesday.
Bryan and I both love pasta, although I try to limit how much we eat. It’s hard to find a good tomato sauce that we both like. At the end of every Summer, Bryan likes to cook up large batches of tomato sauce from vegetables in our garden. We then can the sauce, and try to use it throughout the year. The issue is, it’s never quite right. Straight from the jar, it’s very bland. We simmer it down more, adding a little of this, some of that. Sometimes it’s a little too sweet, or a little too bitter. Try as we might, it’s always just meh! And Bryan hates to buy the jars from the store; he feels that anything pre-made is far inferior.
A few weeks back my parents told me about a quick recipe they came up with for chicken breasts: One large can of tomatoes, drained (in their case, store-bought), half a bottle of Greek salad dressing, and chicken breasts, baked at 350 degrees in a casserole dish. They put it over rice and topped it with feta cheese. It really got me thinking about the idea of using Greek salad dressing as a base for a tomato sauce. Would it work over pasta? How would it taste?
I tend to be the type that sees recipes more as suggestions. Sure, there are some instances, such as baking, when it’s best to follow the recipe exactly. But most of the time? I just use it as a guideline. With my parents’ recipe in mind, I bought a bottle of Greek salad dressing, a small can of tomato paste, and grabbed a pint jar of whole tomatoes that we canned last year. I drained the tomatoes, squeezed them to break them into smaller chunks, and tossed everything into a saucepan. Heat on low until warmed through.
Honestly, this stuff is pretty darned good, and super easy. I used half a bottle of Greek dressing, but in the future will probably cut back to 1/3, because WOAH! that’s a lot of calories! I think it will still have ample flavor using less dressing. And it does take a bit of stirring to incorporate the dressing and tomato paste. Once the sauce is nice and warm, I like to skim the top to remove some of the extra oil that separates out. You know, convince myself it’s a little bit healthier!
So far, I’ve used this sauce on pasta with chicken, vegetable lasagna, and on tortillas with mozzarella cheese as a sort of “pizza roll up”. I like the idea that I’ve found a way to use up some of the tomatoes we have canned from last year. We both really enjoy canning vegetables, but then struggle to eat them throughout the year. The sauce has a good flavor, but it doesn’t take a lot of time to make. It isn’t exactly a healthy recipe, considering the amount of oil in Greek dressing. You can do the same thing with Italian dressing, if you don’t like Greek, but the sauce will be a little bit tangier. Is that even a word?
If you give it a try, let me know what you think!
- Cindy W.