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Sauce has many uses besides atop pasta

You know those inexpensive cans of pasta sauce? I’m talking about the ones that go on sale for less than a dollar. While they’re indispensable for making quick, cheap and easy spaghetti dinners, these sauces are useful for so much more than saucing pasta. Here are several ideas that think outside the pasta box.

Nope, not a noodle in sight.

Easy creamy tomato soup: In a saucepan, lightly sauté ½ cup fresh basil (minced) in 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Add one 24-ounce can of pasta sauce and 2 cups water and heat through. Remove from heat and stir in ½ cup heavy cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Yields 4 servings. This soup told me it’s lonely without its best friend. So, please make a grilled cheese sandwich, too.

Sloppy Joes: Brown 1½ pounds hamburger with one 16-ounce bag of frozen pepper and onion blend. Add 2 cups pasta sauce, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 1½ tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Divide the mixture between four to six hamburger buns. To make Sloppy Giuseppes, replace the hamburger with Italian sausage.

Bloody Marys: To make two drinks, mix 1 cup pasta sauce (choose garlic and herbs or tomato basil, not meat or cheese sauce), ½ cup water, the juice and zest of one lime, ½ teaspoon Worcestershire, ½ tablespoon horseradish and 3 ounces vodka in a pitcher; season to taste with celery salt and hot sauce. Serve with celery, olives and lime wedges.

Tomato butter: In a food processor or mixing bowl with a hand mixer blend 1 stick (½ cup) softened butter, ¼ cup pasta sauce and ¼ cup chopped parsley (or basil or cilantro). Use plastic wrap to roll the compound butter into a log; refrigerate. Slather on freshly baked bread or biscuits; fish, chicken or steak; cooked vegetables or cooked rice.

Some of these recipes don’t use the entire can of sauce. You can easily freeze extra sauce for future fun recipes by placing the sauce in ice cube trays or muffin tins, freezing and storing in plastic freezer bags.

So, next time you’re feeling a little saucy, remember life is about exploring all the pasta-bilities, even those beyond the pasta.

ITALIAN POT ROAST

This is a great weekend recipe. It’s perfect for those times when you can linger in the kitchen and enjoy your home leisurely filling with the ambrosial fragrance of a slow-cooked roast.

What you’ll need:

3 to 5 pounds bottom round or chuck roast

¼ cup flour

1 teaspoon each: salt, pepper and garlic powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (1½ cups) onion, sliced

3 (1 cup) carrots, peeled and finely chopped

3 (1 cup) celery ribs, chopped

4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

1 cup red wine

1 24-ounce can pasta sauce

1 14.5-ounce can Italian style diced tomatoes, optional

Mashed potatoes or polenta for serving

Chopped parsley, optional garnish

Here’s how:

In a small bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the roast. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meat and brown well on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onions, carrot and celery and cook until softened and translucent, about seven minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another five minutes. Then, add the wine, scraping all the lovely, browned bits off the bottom of the pan, and cook until it reduces a little, about five minutes. Add the pasta sauce and canned tomato and stir to combine. Then, return the roast to the pot and cover. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer gently for two to three hours, until fork tender.

When finished cooking, transfer the meat to a chopping board; let this rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. If the sauce isn’t thick enough for your liking, you can continue boiling over medium-high heat, uncovered, until it reduces enough to reach your desired thickness. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Cut the roast into gorgeous big chunks and return to the sauce.

I love to serve this roast on a large platter, family style. Spoon the roast and sauce over a bed of mashed potatoes or creamy polenta, garnished with chopped parsley.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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