Home chefs typically have two options when it comes to sauces: spend an hour or more dicing, chopping, simmering, and spicing to create something truly homemade and nutritious, or they can — we shudder to say it — pour something out of a jar.
While I’m likely only imagining my little Italian great-grandmother wincing if ever I crack open a bottle of Ragu over freshly made pasta, it’s adherence to that preference for traditional, freshly made cuisine that led Santos Acosta to create Rojo, Blanco, and Verde, the lineup of sauce-and-more bases that form Santina’s Harvest.
“My background is law enforcement and security,” he says. “I got into this because I like to cook, and there weren’t really that many healthy condiments out there, unless you chop it up yourself.” The Bronx native and his wife (née Augustina, so there’s your name origin: Santos + Augustina = Santina) moved to Putnam Valley about 12 years ago.
“I wanted to provide everyone a healthy platform, a healthy start to anything you want to prepare.… Growing up as a kid I used to watch my mother blend vegetables and use them to cook. I just got tired of using items that would go bad in three or four days after you open them.”
The three sauces boast ingredient lists so short you could miss them: Blanco, a garlic-based purée, is only 25 calories per tablespoon and has only five ingredients; Verde, a blend of green and red peppers and onion, has only seven ingredients and is merely five calories per tablespoon; Rojo, a mix of fire-roasted red peppers and garlic is also only five calories while boasting merely four ingredients.
Oh, and as for preservatives? Sea salt and vinegar. Not only does this make Santina’s Harvest products entirely shelf-stable, it also makes them sugar-free, gluten-free, cholesterol-free, and extremely low-sodium.
While you could be very happy simply scooping up some Verde on a tortilla chip (we tested), the idea is to use these sauces as a foundation, layering further ingredients and flavorings to create everything from barbecue sauce to salad dressings. Add olive oil, vinegar, and a little citrus to make a tasty marinade, or blend with sour cream or hummus for game day dip. You can even make homemade pizza sauce with Rojo and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste! The best part is that since chefs can completely control added ingredients, they customize a dish to any dietary needs.
Bonus Recipe: As delicious as it is frustratingly simple, toss your freshly cooked pasta with olive oil and then mix in a few tablespoons of Blanco for an A-1 dairy-free white gravy.
Savvy home chefs looking to up their made-from-scratch quotient without actually having to make everything from scratch will definitely want to check out the Santina’s Harvest line, and with so many retail locations in Westchester and repeat appearances on the Home Shopping Network it’s easy to find.