The conversation around simple sauces you can return to again and again usually focuses on pasta, but I know the truth: One cannot live on pasta alone (I’ve tried). Sometimes you need a back-pocket, pantry-centric sauce for a different weeknight application, like fried egg tacos or sheet-pan chicken. That’s when I turn to this super-speedy, three-ingredient tomato sauce.
Here’s how you make it: First, grab a can of chipotles in adobo. If you aren’t already stocking chipotles in adobo in your kitchen at all times, you should start now. Smoky and powerful, with a good amount of heat, these chiles are smoked, dried, and rehydrated in a tangy sauce. (It can be hard to use up a whole can in one sitting, but you can transfer whatever’s leftover to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for about a week.) For my tomato sauce, I like to use 2 chiles, plus 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce from the can for a warm, tingly spice level.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, sizzle the chopped chipotles and can liquid in a drizzle of olive oil for about 30 seconds. This cooks off any tinny flavor from the can. Then stir in one 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes and a pinch of salt. You can also use whole peeled tomatoes that you crush by hand, or diced tomatoes if you don’t mind the more distinctive pieces—I’ve used both to great success. Crushed yields the smoothest sauce, but don’t make another trip to the store just for that.
Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in some sour cream—I’ll use anywhere between 3 Tbsp. and ⅓ cup, depending on my intended use case. Less creamy works with dishes that already have a cheesy element, like stuffed poblano peppers, while a richer version adds lusciousness to roasted vegetables like squash or broccolini. Add some, taste, and repeat until you hit the right amount for you.
If you don’t use it all in one sitting, leftover sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days. Reheat extras on the stove or in the microwave. Try it with chilaquiles, huevos rancheros, burritos or tacos of the breakfast or not breakfast variety, as enchilada sauce, or over chicken, vegetables, or pork. I particularly love it with eggs, and have even cooked eggs directly in the sauce (with a bunch of kale thrown in for #health) like a spicy, creamy twist on shakshuka.
First on your list, though, should be these cheesy stuffed peppers, where the sauce does double duty—as a condiment and a mix-in for the beans and greens filling. And maybe make a double batch of the sauce while you’re at it; the surplus won’t go to waste.
This recipe originally appeared on Bon Appetit US.