Three Homemade Sauces to Bring Your Shitty Little TV Dinner to the Next Level

You’re a gourmet, a foodie, someone who tastes the nutty flavors of a pecorino romano or the floral bouquets of wild honey. You don’t eat to live, you live to eat and nothing goes into your body without earning it. After spending a long day watching J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and Food Wishes YouTube videos, you’re tired and need some sustenance! Perfect, you’ve still got an Amy’s 3 Cheese and Kale Bake pasta bowl in your freezer. Good food in under five minutes, but now it’s time to take it to the next level. Here are three delicious, homemade sauces to add to that baked pasta bowl to really elevate it.

  1. Slow-cooked tomato and basil sauce.

My grandmother always preached that patience is a virtue, and this sauce proves it. In four tantalizingly long hours, you’ll end up with an aromatic red sauce with BIG flavor that will turn your pitiful five-minute microwaved pasta bake into a four hour and five minute meal that will trick your tastebuds into thinking the kale wasn’t freezer burned. Mangia!

What you need: 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, 2 medium carrots, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 oz freshly picked basil, 2 tablespoons cultured unsalted butter, 2 tbsp olive oil

How to do it: Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add chopped alliums and cook until fragrant. Add carrots, basil and tomatoes and let simmer for 3-4 hours. Voila! Add to your pasta bowl before microwaving and enjoy!

  1. Cuban Sofrito

Cuban Sofrito is all about good ingredients, straight from the Earth, prepared simply. It’s paramount that you use the highest ingredients you can for this sofrito. I befriended all the vendors at a local farmers market and am there every morning at 6am to get the finest choice of ingredients. If you aren’t willing to lose sleep for your food, why bother eating? Additionally, if you can’t find ajices dulces, there is no substitute. Try harder. This sofrito will make your microwaved kale and cheese bake absolutely POP.

What you need: 2 oz cilantro, 6 ajices dulces, 2 red bell peppers, 10 cloves of garlic, 4 habaneros, 2 Spanish onions, 2 heirloom tomatoes

How to do it: Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, pulse 30-40 times until smooth consistency is reached. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle on top of already microwaved pasta bake. Garnish with a squeeze of lime juice and sprig of cilantro.

  1. Tonkatsu Sauce

Not everyone has access to fresh fruits and vegetables or the time to slow cook a sauce. Thankfully, this Japanese Tonkatsu sauce is easy and comes together quickly with ingredients that you should absolutely have in your pantry. If you don’t, you’re just embarrassing yourself by now. Using this sauce may even trick your cat who gets the leftovers into believing you got your shitty microwaved pasta bowl from a slightly less shitty, strip mall Fusion restaurant. Bon appetit!

What you need: ½ cup ketchup, 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp mustard, ¼ tsp garlic powder 

How to do it: Add all liquid ingredients together and stir. Add in mustard, sugar and garlic powder and stir until dissolved. Place in a separate bowl and dip your delicious 3 cheese and kale pasta into sauce before eating! Use chopsticks for authenticity!