Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cooking for the freezer

This quarter I would really like to rely less on the freezer section in the grocery store and instead have complete control of what I am putting into my body. To realistically do this I have decided to cook a meal on the weekend that I will then freeze for the rest of the week. Although this takes some planning, it will leave me with options I enjoy eating that are healthy (not to mention cheap and sustainable). 


This weekend I didn't get too crazy, mostly because I was too busy, and I only made part of a meal. I made red sauce that I can eat over pasta or grains as well as in a sandwich (I am really enjoying having a meatless meatball sandwich every couple of weeks (yes, I buy the meatless meatballs)). 


Although I could easily go out and buy a jar of red sauce, I prefer homemade for many reasons: homemade is healthier, less salty, tastes better, and I can add in more vegetables than any company trying to sell sauce in the U.S. would dare. 


I stupidly didn't take pictures because for some reason I thought I already did a post on the sauce so unfortunately there will only be a recipe. 


Ingredients:
1/2 an onion
3 cloves of garlic (or more depending on personal taste)
2 medium squash (I prefer zucchini)
one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
one 14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1 handful/ basket of mushrooms of your choice (I used these:


Image courtesy of 123RF

about 3 teaspoons of oregano
about 2 teaspoons of cumin
salt and pepper to taste
A splash of balsamic vinegar (about a tablespoon)


Recipe
1. Prepare all of your ingredients. I chop both the vegetables and the  mushrooms (which I HATE, but in this sauce they just add a nice density to it without being able to taste or really feel them, so if you don't like mushrooms you do not have to be afraid or leave them out). I finely chop everything so they are barely discernible in the sauce. This also gives the sauce a dense, but even texture. 


2. On medium heat saute the onions in olive oil for about 2-3 minutes, until they start to become translucent. 


3. Add the mushrooms, vegetables, and garlic. Saute until the squash/zucchini begin to cook, usually about 5 minutes)


4. Add both cans of tomatoes and the seasonings. 


5. Let simmer until the vegetables are cooked all the way through.


6. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to cut any bitterness from the tomatoes. A little bit makes a huge difference.  


7. (optional) carefully use a blender or stick blender to pure your sauce. This technique is perfect for anyone who likes a smooth sauce. 


I ate some and scooped the rest into jars I am reusing (so each jar is a single serving) before I put it in the freezer. Although it is slightly annoying to have so many little jars floating around our stuffed freezer, it is makes it possible to eat the sauce one serving at a time. 


The next time I cook for the freezer I will make a full main dish. The hard part will be deciding what that should be. 

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