What’s in the Pantry Pasta Sauce

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What's in the Pantry Pasta Sauce

As my family’s chef, I often find myself wondering what in the world am I going to make for dinner either tonight or tomorrow night. Even though I have spent many years cooking and even went to culinary school, I am terrible at planning out meals. I am trying to get better, so if you have any advice, I’m all ears. Needless to say, I try to keep a stocked pantry so that I have all the items I need for simple throw together staples such as chili, tacos, and pasta sauce.

Last week, I found myself in bed one night thinking, “What can I make for dinner tomorrow?” I had ravioli in the freezer and steak in the fridge. I started thinking, “Ok, what goes well with ravioli and steak?” My mind automatically went to a cream sauce. The next question was, “What do I have that can amp up a cream sauce? Spinach, garlic, onions? Oh, I’ll make a garlic cream sauce.” As I started gathering my ingredients for dinner that evening, I discovered that I had about half a jar of sun dried tomatoes as well, so I decided to add them too. They gave a sweetness to the sauce that helped to round out the flavor.

When it comes to cooking, once you know some of the basics, you can add and change up so many flavors. The sauce for Swedish meatballs is made in a similar manner to the recipe below, but with beef broth and heavy cream. You could even take the recipe I have provided and turn it into a mushroom sage sauce if desired. You can also add more of one ingredient that you like than another other. There are so many possibilities!

Sun Dried Tomato & Spinach Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

4 cloves or more garlic, minced

4 oz sun dried tomatoes (in oil), sliced

2 1/2 cups spinach, fresh or frozen

1 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh sage or rosemary

Directions:

  1. Prep all your ingredients and heat a large skillet to medium high heat.
  2. Add some olive oil to the pan, followed by the shallots. (I recently discovered that if you add onions to the oil when it’s still cool, you will extract more onion flavor). Sautée for 2-3 minutes. Shallots will cook faster than onions, so if you are using onions you will need to cook them longer.
  3. Add the garlic and sautée until fragrant, about 30 seconds. (If you are using fresh herbs, add them with the garlic.) Add the sun dried tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach, stir until wilted.
  4. Once the spinach has wilted, add the milk and heavy cream. Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat and cook another 5-8 minutes until the sauce has thickened some. Add the Parmesan cheese followed by salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve over ravioli or your favorite pasta. Some Cajun pasta or steak would pair well with this creamy pasta too.

Some things to note for this recipe:

Shallots – you can find them at most grocery stores, except Aldi. If you can’t find shallots, yellow or sweet onions will work too.

Parmesan – DO NOT use grated Parmesan (the one you find on the shelf). Pick it up in the refrigerated section, either in the block or already shredded.

Ravioli – I used the frozen ravioli from Aldi, but I didn’t like them. I prefer Rana or Buitoni which you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. What’s your favorite brand? I’m open to trying new ones.

Sun Dried Tomatoes – I like the ones in oil, but tomatoes not in oil will do just as well.

Reheating – cream sauces do not reheat well the next day because the fat tends to separate from the mixture.

This recipe was literally thrown together in a few minutes based on what I had on hand and it’s one that the husband has requested again. What’s your favorite “What’s in the pantry recipe?”

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Hi, my name is Kimberly and I am a new stay at home mom. I am a nomad of sorts. Born in Arkansas to a military family of five children, I was speaking German by the age of 4. I have lived in Germany, England, and the United States and have traveled to countless other countries. In 2006 I moved to Providence, Rhode Island in order to attend Johnson & Wales University where I received a Bachelor's degree in Food Service Management, an Associate's in Culinary Arts, and an Associate's in Baking and Pastry Arts. So you could say that I'm a foodie.  After college I worked in Collegiate Ministry for many years and loved every second of it. I would do it again in a heartbeat if given the chance today. I met my husband, Wade, in 2011 through Collegiate Ministry but we didn't start dating until 2015. Our entire relationship was long distance and we saw each other a total of 10 times before our wedding. After our wedding in 2016, I moved to Chattanooga where my husband is an associate pastor and I can say that this move was one of the hardest things I had ever done. After two years of marriage we welcomed our daughter into the world this past October. She is a joy, loves to smile, and has turned our world upside down. If I'm not in the kitchen baking or cooking, you can find me outside enjoying nature.