Simmer sauce specifics?
March 5, 2019 9:37 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite bottled simmer sauce dinners, especially for an Instant Pot? Seeking specifics for lots of vegetables, maximum flavor with absolute minimum effort.

What are your favorite bottled simmer sauces, and what works well in them?

I would like to dump stuff into an Instant Pot and get as close as possible to restaurant food, or at least maximum deliciousness, for the least possible effort. (I am willing to chop vegetables but prefer if my garlic and ginger and stuff are already in the sauce.)

I'd like to maximize vegetables and get some protein.

I'm thinking of dumping tofu, a jar of simmer sauce, and some frozen vegetables into an Instant Pot, and I'd appreciate specific recommendations of sauces and combos you, personally, have really enjoyed.

I do most of my shopping at Trader Joe's, but Whole Foods and Amazon are also options. I've seen several simmer sauces at Trader Joe's, and I've seen Maya Kaimal elsewhere, and I'm sure there are others.

All cuisines are welcome - Indian, Thai, Mexican (salsas), even Italian. Meat is okay but tofu or beans are better.

Details would be great - if there are particular vegetables that go well with a sauce, or if you can include your Instant Pot times, that would all be helpful.

Thank you!
posted by kristi to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Comes in envelopes, not jars, but I am partial to Saffron Road's simmer sauces. The Moroccan is my fav. I usually throw some green and red peppers, onions, and mushrooms in.
posted by thelonius at 9:58 AM on March 5, 2019

Stonewall Kitchen's Coconut Curry Simmer Sauce is really good. I had it last night, in fact (with chicken and roasted cauliflower). Never tried it in the Instant Pot.

I'm partial to Paesana Marinara Sauce for anything Italian -- great ingredient list; compares well to Rao's for half the price.
posted by libraryhead at 10:19 AM on March 5, 2019

We just did pulled pork in Frontera brand Barbacoa sauce and it was great. I added a half cup of broth to avoid burning and did manual cook for 55 minutes. You are supposed to use beef, but pork worked well and I think tofu would be amazing.
posted by soelo at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2019

Anything by Pataks. They're basically a various Indian curry sauces but all simmer well. Goes great with any veggies, but I particularly like spinach & things like sweet potatos & pumpkin in with them, oh chickpeas come up delish in them too. Put the spinach in at the end & let the residual heat wilt it. The sauce sometimes separates but a quick stir puts it all back together again.
posted by wwax at 10:26 AM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like Maya Kaimal sauces. I haven't made them in the instant pot, but I do usually add a bit of water or chicken broth to extend them for a family meal. I usually get the Jalfrezi Curry or the Madras Curry, sometimes the Vindaloo (in the refrigerated sauces.

I usually have them with some combination of chicken breast, chard, chickpeas and cauliflower (I usually like to roast the cauliflower in the oven.) I feel like using lamb with one of these sauces in the instant pot could be excellent.
posted by vunder at 12:00 PM on March 5, 2019

I like the Maya Kamal sauces too but I usually cook the meat (usually lamb) first then add the sauce.

A easy instant pot meal I make is:
1.5ish lbs pork roast (from Costco) cubed, 1/2 jar of trader Joe's tomatillo salsa, 1 can hatch chiles from TJ. Cook in the instant pot for 35 min, than add the rest of the jar of salsa. Not veggie heavy though.
posted by vespabelle at 1:09 PM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've been loving Patak's Biryani with chicken a few times in a smaller Instant Pot, although the frozen veggies ended up mush when done with chicken.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:51 PM on March 5, 2019

Whenever I go to TJ I get a couple jars of the green simmer sauce. I’d rate it as a mild spice level with good flavor — I use it with long grain brown rice, petite green lentils, and often either beans or tofu. This is my go-to lunch most days (changing up beans and sauce most weeks). Half a jar spreads well over (dry) 1 pound rice, 1 cup lentils, and 0.5 cup beans. Can sub in a couple of veggie sausages or a package of tofu for the beans. I don’t do this in an IP so can’t give cooking times for that, unfortunately!
posted by curious nu at 4:09 PM on March 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Have you tried the new Amba Mango Sauce at TJ?

"After conspiring with the trusted supplier who makes our frozen Indian meals, we created Trader Joe’s Amba Mango Sauce. This sauce is a common condiment used all over the Middle East and throughout India. In fact, “amba” means mango in Marathi (one of many languages spoken in India), so it comes as no surprise that mangoes form the base of this sauce.

"Ripe mangoes and green mangoes are fermented then simmered with garlic, salt, turmeric, paprika, and a host of Indian spices. The finished product has a deep-yellow color with a thick, very smooth texture; the flavor is savory and complex, with some considerable heat."
posted by QuakerMel at 8:29 AM on March 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I hope you don't mind me being so heavy on the Best Answer links, but honestly, these are all so helpful!

Special thanks to thelonius for suggesting stuff in packets - I tend to favor glass because I think "recyclable! good for the environment!" but Saffron Road says right on their website: "single use pouches that are easy to use, eliminate waste and reduce carbon emissions".

My first attempt was a Maya Kaimal Goan curry sauce with eggplant, tofu, onions, and carrot (3 minutes at high pressure, then quick release) with some frozen okra, which I stirred in at the end to keep it from becoming mush. It worked quite well!

I am REALLY looking forward to trying all these great suggestions.

Thank you all!
posted by kristi at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

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