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Any good tomato sauce in a jar?

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I have always hated pre-made sauces, but there is the occasion I have no time to make the homemade stuff. Has anyone discovered a decent jarred sauce?

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  1. I LOVE,LOVE, LOVE Mario batali's jarred sauce...I use his recipe to make my own, and this stuff tastes *just* like the recipe...No extra nuthin', just tomatoes, EVOO, garlic, onions, thyme and carrot...Problem is, I don't know how wide-spread their distribution is...I know they have it at Trader Joe's, but someone told me it may be an exclusive arrangement. Anyone know if this is true?

    2 Replies
    1. re: galleygirl

      I find any supermarket brand can be decent if you doctor it up a bit. Throw in some fresh herbs after reheating, and maybe some grated Parmasean cheese too.

      1. re: galleygirl

        don't know about the exclusivity part (I've never seen it anywhere else, either) but I concurr: LOVE IT.

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        Allie D'Augustine

        Right now, I like Trader Joe's tomato basil sauce best -- it's garlicky and pretty oily and not sweet. (And, as I posted earlier today, it keeps forever in the fridge, although I've been informed that keeping it for three weeks might kill me.)

        I still can't eat it plain, but I do like to use it about half and half with fresh ricotta and sometimes some mozzarella melted in. The cheese so dominates the flavor that it really doesn't make a difference.

        Although you can take canned diced tomatoes -- Del Monte makes a kind called "fresh cut" or something like that are already diced in juice but are still very good quality -- add those to some garlic sauted in oil, salt and whatever seasonings are handy, a splash of vinegar maybe, and simmer it for ten minutes. It'll be ready by the time your water has boiled for pasta. It's not the same as a ragu, certainly, but it's good. My current favorite sauce takes that base, adds a lot of diced olives and a can of anchovies and balsamic vinegar. It's not a matter of time, it's a matter of having the ingredients -- and all of the necessary ones are shelf stable.

        Of course, I also sometimes am so strapped for time that I need my ten minutes of water-boiling time to take care of other small errands... but that's rare for me.

        Let us know if you find another good bottled sauce!
        Allie

        2 Replies
        1. re: Allie D'Augustine

          yes, a really good arrabiatta sauce is ridiculously easy to prepare with a few key players - canned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and salt (and a bit of fresh parsley on top)- in less time than it takes to finish the pasta. i use bittman's version in "how to cook everything."

          1. re: apple
            a
            Allie D'Augustine

            Just remembered: for arrabiata, must add some hot pepper flakes. And no grated cheese. (I'm a purist when it suits me.)

            Allie

        2. One hint: never buy a sauce made with corn syrup (or much sugar, for that matter), as it is a great way to mask the poor flavor of inferior tomatoes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Karl S.

            And it tastes too sweet anyway.

          2. Being an olive lover, I do enjoy Barilla's green and black olive tomato sauce (I believe it has capers in it too). Some may find it too salty, but I really like it. While it's simmering, I splash in a bit of dry red wine - adds flavor and cuts the saltiness too. Then, I pour it over my pasta, sprinkle w/red pepper flakes and parmesan or romano, and presto - a simple pleasure.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LisaM

              You should taste the European version of this Barilla sauce. Far, far better than the American version.

              I wrote Barilla about that. But they were evasive and gave me coupons to buy more sauce.

              1. re: LisaM

                Yeah, baby! I usually start by sauteeing some coarse-chopped garlic in a little olive and a splash of whatever wine I happen to be drinking. The wine is also good for rinsing the rest of the sauce out of the jar. Have it over angelhair w/shredded parm and a salad. Mighty decent mid-week meal, mostly from out of the cupboard.

                1. re: LisaM

                  That is also my favorite. Am chasing around to all the different kinds of grocery stores where I live now trying to track it down. Classico olive and mushroom is my fallback--but not as olivey.

                2. I like the Muir Glen tomato products. The jar sauces are decent.

                  But, truth be told, I usually just buy the cans of Muir Glen whole peeled tomatoes and crush them by hand for sauce. Add some garlic, onion and basil and you've got a decent sauce from a can.