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If any of you reading this are like me, you’ll understand how time, motivation, and dinner can be in great conflict with each other sometimes. I enjoy cooking most of the time – just not after a long day, especially if I’ve spent a good chunk of it tasting and writing about food. Thus, far more often than I’d like to admit, I’ll pick dinner up on the way home or sometimes, even open a jar.

Of course, there are two problems with approaching dinner in these fashions. One, they’re generally not the healthiest meals. (I have no misconceptions about why I’m twenty pounds heavier than I was back in college and my doctor wants me to take a pill for high blood pressure.) And two, I know I can cook meals that taste much better.

Thus, when I was presented with four simmer sauces from Lizbeth Lane, I was skeptical. My first move was to check the back label. At only about 90 calories per serving, the sauces weren’t apt to harm my waistline much, and with a much lower sodium content than your average sauce from a jar, I wouldn’t have to lie to my doctor about them either. Given these two facts, however, I was worried about how they would taste.

I sampled each sauce with chicken breasts, served over a bed of rice just to be consistent. I can’t tell you they were the best thing I’ve ever eaten. That would be a stretch. But, I can honestly say that these are some of the best sauces I’ve had that came from a jar. Could I make something tastier from scratch? Sure. It would take a lot more time and effort, though. These simmer sauces were really easy. I steamed some rice, cook a few fresh chicken breast quickly, and then let them simmer for a few minutes. For such little effort, I had a pretty darn good meal. All four flavors were enjoyable, not a disappointment among them. They all tasted fairly fresh and wholesome, and their flavors were nicely balanced. So in a nutshell, if you are one of those magic people that can make time to cook dinner from scratch, you can probably do a better job. For the rest of us, who are mortal or lack any time management skills, these Lizbeth Lane simmer sauces can provide you with a rather enjoyable meal, without the usual amount of fat and salt often found in jars. My personal favorites were Lemon Piccata and Roasted Red Pepper. You can read more detailed reviews of each sauce below and taste them for yourself by ordering them from the Lizbeth Lane website.

Roast Red Pepper Basil Cream: the creamy texture of the sauce is balanced nicely by distinct red pepper flavors. It’s not overly seasoned, so a bit of extra flavor in the form of some fresh basil and a few of your own select spices can really bring a simple chicken and rice dish to life. High marks here.

Mediterranean Tomato: A lightly spiced sauce, with an Italian character, the flavors aren’t overpowering, so the juiciness of the chicken comes through. The bits of tomato still taste pretty fresh. Adding in a few of your own Italian seasonings is a great way to perk up your taste buds without much extra effort.

Mushroom Marsala: This is a nice light sauce, with a good balance of flavors. The mushrooms don’t take over, so other more subtle elements can come through. It’s not too salty, either, which means your free to spruce it up how you like.

Lemon Piccata: A very nice convergence of flavors in this sauce. Creamy notes are in harmony with a lovely bit of citrus zest. The sauce livened up chicken, but it did wonders for some butternut squash ravioli I had leftover. Great, light, lively flavors, it’s a winner for out of a jar.

 

By Michael Perkins