Anyone familiar with regions that have their own native cuisines is probably aware that one of the things that makes these cuisines so identifiable is that they tend to use the same basic ingredients over and over in a variety of ways.
These repetitive ingredients have been the foundation for many of the best restaurants in the world, allowing them to provide diverse menus using regional cooking styles and smaller sets of manageable food inventories.
A lot of home cooks tend to follow the same philosophy as well. Often they rely on cheap, affordable ingredients like ground beef and tomato sauce so they can put together quick and inexpensive meals without having to stock a lot of ingredients in their pantry.
Meanwhile, you have health specialists telling us we need to be eating a more diverse diet of in-season vegetables and fruits (those things that are good for us but take up too much f**king room in our refrigerators), and move away from the canned/processed foods that are our usual go-to items.
I decided I would take a more regional/restaurant approach to this problem with a new experiment. I am currently cooking a pot full of broccoli, cauliflower, squash, onion and celery just until it becomes soft enough to puree into a nicely textured sauce. This sauce will have no additives like sugar or salt (and certainly no high fructose corn syrup). I will be canning it in a bunch of jars so I can store it in my pantry rather than having a bunch of vegetables taking up space that could be used for beer.
The plan is to use this vegetarian ‘mother sauce’ as the basis for a new ‘suburban american’ regional cooking style. I’ll definitely be using this sauce with meat, so the vegans out there shouldn’t get TOO excited, but I’m sure you can take this concept and run with it as well.
1 head of cauliflower
1 bunch of broccoli (roughly 1/3 the size of your cauliflower)
2 small yellow squashes
1/2 sweet yellow onion
2 large celery stalks
Peel your squash and onion and wash all your produce.
Throw everything into a stock pot and add water until it’s 1/2 the depth of your vegetables.
With a lid on your pot, bring your water to a boil, then turn off the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Transfer the vegetables into a blender or food processor (you may need to do this in 2 parts if your blender is smaller).
With a wooden spoon, mash the ingredients up in the blender.
Add water from your stock put until the water line is just below the top of your mashed vegetables.
Puree the mix until it reaches a smooth texture.
Transfer the sauce evenly into pint size jars (4 or 5 jars should work).
If you plan on keeping your sauce in a non-refrigerated pantry you will want to can it. This process pulls much of the air out of your jars and creates a tight seal that helps preserve the contents. Keeping air out of your food, along with storing it in a cool dark place will make it last for years,
Because this sauce doesn’t have a lot of acid (unlike pickles or jams), you will want to use a pressure canner which will heat your sauce well above the temperature of boiling water and effectively kill any botulism spores that can survive in boiling liquid with low pH levels.
You can still can your sauce by submerging the jars in a boiling water bath for several minutes, but the shelf life will only be a matter of weeks.
If you can’t pressure can the sauce, it’s probably going to be best if you keep it refrigerated or even freeze it if you won’t be using it often.