The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Homemade Creole Sauce

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

Creole meals can really stretch your food budget. Here's a recipe for making your own fresh, made-from-scratch Creole sauce. | Photo credit: Scott M. Liddell, MorgueFile.com

 

Creole meals can really stretch your food budget. Here's a recipe for making your own fresh, made-from-scratch Creole sauce.  | Photo credit: Scott M. Liddell, MorgueFile.com

In Louisiana Creole cuisine, there is a flavorful tomato-based sauce known as a Creole sauce. It's rather similar to an Italian tomato sauce, but emphasizes more of the traditional Louisiana flavors that are derived from the fusion of French and Spanish cooking styles.

Creole sauce is similar to Cajun sauce as it usually contains the traditional "holy trinity" of diced bell pepper, onion, and celery.

While there are sauce packets and jars of pre-made Creole sauce available in supermarkets, making your own fresh, get-down-to-basics sauce at home is easy on the pocketbook and takes very little time to prepare it from scratch. Even if you've never been to Louisiana, you can whip up a DIY Creole sauce in less than a half hour. It freezes well, so make a big batch whenever possible to have in the freezer, ready to be defrosted, on those nights you have to work late or the family has places to dash to.

Here's a recipe for making your own frugal Creole sauce that can be served with fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, omelets, rice, or spaghetti. It's cheap to make and is low in fat (only about 20 calories per tablespoon).

 

Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped celery, garlic, green pepper, and mushroom, and cook, uncovered for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer, uncovered for 25 minutes.

This recipe makes about 1-1/2 cup of Creole sauce.

You can make this sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it for a couple of days. It freezes beautifully.

 

Here's a bit of background on Louisiana Creole cuisine, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Louisiana Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana (centered on the Greater New Orleans area) which is a melting pot cuisine that blends French, Spanish, Canarian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Deep Southern American, Indian, and African influences. It also bears hallmarks of British, Irish, Italian, German, Albanian, and Greek cuisines.

The Spanish and Canarian influences on Creole cuisine were in the heat of the peppers, the wide usage of citrus juice marinades, the supreme importance of rice, and the introduction of beans. The Spaniards and the Italians also used tomatoes extensively, which had not been a frequent ingredient in the earlier French era. Pasta and tomato sauces arrived during the period when New Orleans was a popular destination for Italian, Albanian, and Greek immigrants (roughly, 1815 to 1925). Many Italians, Albanians, and Greeks became grocers, bakers, cheese makers and orchard farmers, and so influenced the Creole cuisine in New Orleans and its suburbs. The African and Indian influences, which were extensive, came about because many of the servants were either African-American or Asian Indian American, as were many of the cooks in restaurants and cafes.

The first French, Spanish, and Italian Creole cookbooks date back to the era before the Louisiana Purchase. The first Creole cookbook in English was La Cuisine Creole: A Collection of Culinary Recipes, From Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, Who Have Made New Orleans Famous For Its Cuisine, written by Lafcadio Hearn and published in 1885.

 

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Sources:
Reader's Digest, Quick, Thrifty Cooking, Pleasantville, New York, 1985.
Wikipedia.org, "Louisiana Creole Cuisine," (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisiana_Creole_cuisine).