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Good way to doctor up jar spaghetti sauce?

I don't have the time to make mine from scratch. I like to use the jar sauce as a base, but then either add some browned beef or sauteed mushrooms to make it more tolerable. And of course garlic and spices.

But I'm always looking for new ideas - got any?

Bonus points if you tell me your favorite jar sauce.


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  1. anchovy paste, capers, good olive oil, definitely garlic, olives, and/or pesto are always favorites of mine.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chaddict

      Or, instead of anchovy paste, just anchovy fillets. They will dissolve right into the sauce. With anchovy paste, a lot of what you are paying for is just salt.

      1. re: Lady_Tenar

        I would really wonder if there's any more salt - but I would go along with the paste being more expensive because of packing I should think - on the other hand, the paste tube does allow you to use bits - whereas the jar or can of fillets needs to be used whole or else re-packed where they almost always drip oil someplace.

    2. These days I've been discovering fennel all over again - sauteeing it with onions for a hearty bean-vegetable soup or stews. I am sure it would add much to jarred pasta sauce. I know Batali has a bottled version with it, so it's not a novel idea :-/ I've added sauteed peppers with thyme, sauteed cubes of eggplant or zucchini with garlic, even wilted spinach with garlic, and definitely some chilli flakes with success.

      1. quick recipe
        Italian Sausage fry in saute pan, either cut up in pieces or pull the casing off and mash with fork

        add whatever veggies you like- onion, peppers, mushrooms, garlic- salt pepper, oregano, italian seasoning, sugar and a dash of red wine

        then add a can of tomatoes, crushed, whole and crush them with your hands or diced, whatever you have available.

        canned tomatoes are better, but if you like it more saucy do add a little jarred sauce.

        another super quick recipe is a tomato cream sauce.
        put jarred sauce in a saute pan heat, turn on low heat and add some half and half then add your cooked pasta.
        I always buy plain sauce too, always add your own meat and veggies.

        1. I love TJ's vegetarian pasta sauces. Not too sweet.

          To doctor jarred sauce, the simplest solution is fresh herbs. Other possibilities: chopped spinach; roasted eggplant chunks; fava beans; caramelized onions.

          For a completely different flavour, I like to add cumin, cinnamon and orange zest.

          1. Spaghetti sauce is so profoundly simple to make (really good/really ee-zee) that I can't think of a reason to buy a processed product. Just smash a garlic clove, fry briefly in evoo, pour in a can of good crushed canned tomatoes, add a little sugar, basil or oregano and pass the parmesan. Now don't tell me you're not using fresh parmesan...puh - leeze!

            13 Replies
            1. re: niki rothman

              BK(before kids) I had time and peace to make our dinner. Now I have 10 minutes and a kidlet tugging at my leg as I hop around the kitchen to put something on the table that both kidlet and the folks can eat. I have to contend with her basic pallette most days, which can be BO-RING.

              Is there anything other than fresh parmesan? In what other form does one buy it?

              1. re: mamamia

                instead of buying parmasean in a wedge you can always buy it pre-shredded. not the green canister though.

                1. re: da_seuss

                  My family always loved the Calabro cheese which came in a glass jar with a yellow lid.

                  Nothing like the green canister and an AMAZING product.

                2. re: mamamia

                  what is something different but yet good to go with spaghetti besides the usual garlic bread and veggies!!!!

                3. re: niki rothman

                  I am with Niki on this..in the time it takes to doctor up a jar it can be made. I always use really good canned whole peeled Italian tomatoes and crush em with my hands (clean hands.) I always use good parm cheese...it makes all the difference.

                  1. re: melly

                    Exactly. I use Pomi crushed tomatoes in the vacuumed carboard boxes. And when you use Italian or other good quality tomatoes, plenty of good quality olive oil and some fresh basil (w/garlic) or fresh parsley (w/onion) you don't need to let it simmer that long -- maybe 8-10 min. max when using the garlic version.

                    also, keep your fresh parmesan block in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge.

                    1. re: melly

                      "crush em with my hands (clean hands)" - thanks!

                    2. re: niki rothman

                      Absolutely. Garlic, olive oil, good tomatoes, salt and pepper. Add fresh torn up basil just before serving. Takes 15-20 minutes tops. Oh, and I use pecorino romano instead of parmesan, but that's just my taste!

                      And if OP says she's adding meat (which ideally should be nicely browned and allowed to cook in the sauce for at least an hour), there's no excuse to buy premade sauce.

                      One other thought: it's just as easy to make double the amount and freeze some for future use. What could be more convenient?

                      1. re: Kagey

                        I always have trouble thawing...any tips on that?

                        1. re: melpy

                          Think ahead! Pull something from the freezer the evening before, put it in the fridge and it will be ready to heat for the evening meal.

                          1. re: goodmom

                            Freeze in a narrow jar - put the jar in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes - it slips out and heats up in another 5.

                      2. re: niki rothman

                        I'm with niki... I can think of no reason to get premade spaghetti sauce. You can literally make it from tomato juice with good quality tomato paste added to it- the kind in the tube - if you're in a hurry. Or you can use tomato sauce, low sodium or not, as your base. Then you don't have all the salt and artificial junk. I start with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, a little red wine, red pepper flakes if you like a little kick, add the sauce and simmer till it's the right consistency. I add the fresh basil at the end right before serving.

                        1. re: niki rothman

                          I agree...even if I just buy canned tomato puree, I prefer to control the sauce and what goes in it. I feel like there are so many things I would never add to sauce lurking in those jars that I will rarely use it.

                          I do make a layered pizza dip that I don't mind buying the sauce for and I just use something cheap with inoffensive flavoring because the rest of the dip ingredients are so flavorful that you can't tell it isn't homemade sauce.

                        2. I can empathize - tomato sauce is easy to make but sometimes there isn't the time to let it all simmer or it just feels like too much effort. Last week, I sauteed some onions, a bit of crushed garlic and red pepper flakes in evoo, added some ground turkey and then some shelled peas. I poured in a jar of Rao's Marinara sauce (I think the Rao's sauces are really good) and while it was heating up, I added in some baby arugula leaves. I tossed it with some whole wheat spaghetti (need to check the brand so I can respond the whole wheat pasta thread - it was great) and then topped with fresh parmesan and basil. It was great - even passed the taste test for my teen-aged niece who is super finicky. Other options - sauteed oyster or chanterelle mushrooms, chives, capers, grated zucchini, chevre, etc.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: peppermint pate

                            Wow! I've never used arugala cooked. But thanks to you I will. I actually have some in the fridge right now.

                            1. re: niki rothman

                              Hi Niki - it wilts quickly, like spinach, so add it in just at the last minute so it doesn't get soggy (you can even add it in once you turn off the heat on the sauce and you're just about to serve it). I do this with risotto and omelettes as well.

                              1. re: niki rothman

                                Niki - I make from time to time an Arugula and tomato sauce that is a variation of a sauce that the TV chef Nick Stellino made, and its really superb. I'll post it if you or anyone else wants it.

                              2. re: peppermint pate

                                love the arugala... nice bit of spicy bite not all too dissimilar from the anisey flavour in basil.

                                i know peppermint pate is from the toronto boards, so this seemed like the most appropriate spot on the thread, but rather than a jarred sauce i'd suggest some organic crushed tomatoes as many others have offered up. there's one brand in ontario and the label only reads: tomatoes, salt. it's got a red label with two tomatoes on the front encircled with a blue ring, can't remember the name for the life of me.

                                but i will eat this stuff straight out of the can. it's so beautifully intensely tomato flavoured with a little sweetness that it's nearly a shame to dilute it. but any can of tomatoes with good beginnings will be fantastic. those flavoured jarred sauces pale in comparison and it's already thick enough that you don't have to simmer it down.

                                i will pretty much put anything in a tomato sauce from my fridge if i need to get rid of some items.

                              3. I like the Classico sauces a whole lot, mostly the simpler ones. I have made a basic sauce in a pan then added a small jar of the tomato/basil sauce to it, though what I usually do is just cook some chopped onion in olive oil, throw in a bit of garlic, then add the jar of sauce. However I do it, I then pour in maybe a quarter-glass of whatever rosso I'm drinking, screw the lid on, and shake it thoroughly before adding that to the pan. Adds good flavor AND cleans out the jar...

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  I second this, if you have to use jarred and doctor is, use this, it's simple and fresh tasting, not too sugary. But I do agree with others that you can make your own in the time it takes to make the pasta...you don't have to simmer all tomato sauce for hours! Still, I keep classico on hand myself for times like these. I like to add mushrooms and turkey sausage and lots of basil, but quicker additions would be capers, black olives, maybe sundried tomatoes, certainly some wine would help...yeah, Rao's is delicious delicious, but really expensive, and some people might not be used to the relative thinness...

                                  1. re: prunefeet

                                    Personally I won't pay a lot for jarred sauce when the ingredients are so cheap.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      It's not always the cost. Sometimes it's the scarcity of time.

                                      1. re: chicgail

                                        I can make something decent in the amount of time I'm making the pasta.

                                  2. re: Will Owen

                                    My recipe is very similar to Will's, chopped garlic, onion, sauteed in EVOO, maybe some mushrooms or a sweet red pepper, and part of the glass of red wine I am drinking. Also, I like to add a bit of tomato paste, and maybe some lemon. A pinch or oregano or a sprig of basil from the garden, depending on the taste of what is in the jar. A very delicious addition is to saute some pepperoni along with the garlic and onion (sometimes I cut the circles of pepperoni into quarters with the kitchen shears, and you can skip most or all of the oil).

                                  3. I totally agree with niki. If you have time to open a jar (which has added sodium, sugar and who knows what else), you have time to open a can and add your own seasonings. That way you control the salt, sugar, and other seasonings to your liking. You mentioned having the time to brown up meat and mushrooms, just throw that stuff into a good can of crushed tomatoes instead. There's no rule that sauce has to sit and simmer all day. Try Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes (I like the chunky style). They are pretty decent tomatoes, so they need little doctoring. Garlic, EVOO, salt, pepper. Toss in some torn up fresh basil leaves right at the end just to wilt them for a really fresh taste. You can cook this up in the time it takes the water to boil for the pasta! Do NOT use the parmesean in the green can. Keep a small block of fresh parmesean in the fridge, and quickly grate it with a microplane over the pasta. Using these fresh ingredients makes even a super quick sauce taste great.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: CookingGirl

                                      I only cook my basic sauce 20 minutes - just to marry the flavors. The tomatoes from a can are already cooked. To get the best canned tomatoes that are not ultra expensive imported from Italy - it's not the crushed - it's TJ's plum tomats packed in puree. Pour into the pot and just squash up with your hands - great tension reliever too! Herbs I only add for the very last moment of time if fresh. iF dried, I add herb and pep flakes to the oil and garlic and fry a few moments to bring out the flavor. For parm I prefer the chunk TJ's domestic - for $5 a pound. Powder it in the cuisinart and ibto the fridge in a pint size plastic container - stays nice an sharp tasting for a couple of weeks - no muss, no fuss.

                                    2. I like Classico Red Pepper sauce. Add frozen spinach and Ikea meatballs. Top with lots of real parmesan. This is one of those after-work meals you can whip up even if you have no fresh vegetables on hand. If you have fresh spinach and fresh mushrooms, it's even better.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Anya L

                                        What are Ikea meatballs? Do you get them at the Ikea store?

                                        1. re: jan262

                                          They supposedly have good swedish meatballs...probably they sell them frozen, to go, but I don't know for sure. It doesn't sound appetizing, does it, ikea meatballs!

                                          1. re: prunefeet

                                            Yes, you buy them frozen at the Ikea store.

                                            1. re: prunefeet

                                              They're surprisingly good with a great texture. Although they've expanded their food offerings so I'm guessing there will be some decline in quality.

                                        2. I think the trick here is to start with a remarkable jar of sauce. There are some, and they are costly. I use Rao's. Over the top expensive, but simple, good ingredients. I personally like the Arriabata. The Marinara I often add calamata olives and capers. Or Italian ham. Most bottled sauces are far too sweet, way too much sugar or sodium to make up for the lack of flavor. I pay the price for quality in this case. There are other good sauces at Whole Foods. I splurge and find it worth it to buy the Rao's. I also find it at Ralphs upon occasion (west coaster here) and have found it at Bed, Bath, Beyond...odd! Check ingredients, buy what has the least, as these are the best to add things to.

                                          1. TJ's organic basil and tomato has saved my bacon recently. I added a jar of Trader Joe's olive tapanade and made a (mostly) white lasagne that was very well rec'd.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: teamkitty

                                              Yes! TJ's tapenade or for that matter their pitted greek olives are so very useful - try the tapenade mixed into a green salad - so rich tasting!

                                              1. re: niki rothman

                                                What a great idea, Niki! Thanks. 2 weeks ago was the first time I'd used a bottled sauce in years, but I was absolutely frantic, as I'd run very short of the main pasta course and had to come up with something I could literally throw together in about 7 minutes. I usually add just a quick splash of either balsamic or rice vinegar to my sauce - depending on how sweet the tomatoes are.

                                                1. re: teamkitty

                                                  Another salad dressing I love that is rather novel - TJ's Island Teriyaki sauce. It's dynamite on broiled meat, but it also makes the perfect sweet/sour/sesame salad dressing and it's low fat.

                                            2. No need to use jarred sauce. My college roommate's father (from Rome) taught us to make a fast sauce by sauteeing some garlic in olive oil, then adding a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste to it and blend in whatever herbs you want to use to that mixture heating until the paste is somewhat carmelized and the flavors are released. Add a can of crushed tomatoes in puree, season to taste with salt and pepper, and you have sauce. The tomato paste addition gets close to that long-cooked flavor when you don't have time.

                                              Edited to add:

                                              He also taught us that a tomato-based pasta sauce needn't be thick. Also to temper the pasta in the sauce at the stove.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                You made 2 GREAT POINTS! My mom also sears by frying the tomat paste to caramelize it slightly, and it is so true about just using enough sauce to coat the pasta lightly, it's not glop or glue - it is a "condiment" as mario says. Also the real Italians (I got this from the Sopranos - Ralphie before Tony whacked him) when the pasta is still very al dente, drain it, put back into the pot with a ladleful of sauce and cook for a couple of minutes so that the pasta absorbs so sauce as it finishes cooking - these are key points, really.

                                              2. Agree with the previous posts that a simple tomato sauce can be made in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. Of course this assumes you planned this in advance and have the ingredients - good tomatoes fresh or canned, some herbs and other add-ins. I did this on Monday but I knew I had tomatoes at home. I don't add meat, don't like it unless it's real ragu bolognaise which is not quick. I make this in large quantities and freeze for future use.

                                                If you're still looking for a bottled sauce, try Emeril's. I don't know if it's still around but it got good ratings from Consumer Reports, I believe.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: cheryl_h

                                                  And what about an uncooked tomato sauce with heirloom tomats available in the summer, it's a sin to cook 'em if you don't have to - fry the onions and garlic and pep flakes in evoo, add chopped raw tomats, torn basil, salt & sugar - ultra yum!

                                                  1. re: cheryl_h

                                                    It's just as easy to keep cans of tomatoes on hand as it is jars of sauce. I always have tons of canned tomatoes on hand. I use them all the time.

                                                  2. POMI brand (from Italy) comes in a small box in the canned tomato section of the supermarket. It is, by far, the next best thing to using fresh summer tomatoes and better than any other canned product on the market.

                                                    They carry tomatoes in all forms....chopped, strained and sauce and for those who don't have a ton of time and energy, they carry an excellent Marinara that lends itself very well to doctoring.

                                                    Now everyone can be happy!

                                                    One more item, the refrigerated sauces sold near the fresh pasta (some made by Buitoni or Monterey Pasta Co.,etc..... but these may have different names regionally as companies keep getting bought out) are a quick, last minute option too.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: MSK

                                                      Pomi rocks! I pretty much doctor it with the same stuff I doctor the jarred sauce 9see above). If it weren't for Pomi in my salad days in Italy, I would have starved.

                                                      1. re: MSK

                                                        Good point on the refrigerated sauces. Trader Joe's fresh tomato sauce is awesome! over raviolis...

                                                      2. Add in some red wine, chopped anchovies, and grate in some Romano cheese.

                                                        1. Best jarred pasta sauce- hands down- is Bove's !!! Sauteed mushrooms and some olives do nicely if you are rummaging through the pantry.

                                                          However, I also make my own "quick sauce". A can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes, some salt, pepper, garlic. Bring it to a boil, simmer for a few mins. and you're done!

                                                          1. Yep, I'm done with jarred sauces. I can make it in the same amount of time I can doctor it. I used canned crushed tomatoes with garlic, red wine, basil, crushed red pepper, parsley, etc. Fresh herbs are great, but not always around.

                                                            Really, I can do the sauce in the time it takes to boil the water for the pasta.

                                                            And, it's so much less expensive than jarred sauces full of preservatives and stuff.

                                                            1. I know they're used on everything, but a few sun-dried tomatoes and the oil, really help give the sauce a rich dimension.

                                                              Of course, I usually just what greg5150 (above) said! Oh, and this is one of the few times that dried herbs actually work better than fresh.


                                                              1. My favorite jarred sauce is Seeds of Change (organic). I think it's perfect as it is.

                                                                I almost consider bought sauce a different dish than homemade spaghetti sauce, but I think everyone has made compelling arguments against jarred sauces. IMO the best canned tomatoes out there are San Marzano, and they do come crushed. (They're worth the hunt to find them, and you can also order online I believe.)

                                                                1. No, should I be? :)

                                                                  I like buying Central Market's package of chopped onions, garlic, and a variety of sliced mushrooms--that's a great shortcut to homemade spaghetti sauce fast.

                                                                  1. The easiest thing ever:
                                                                    Slice an eggplant the long way, rub olive oil on the cut side, roast cut side down until tender (~40'@ 400F). Scoop out cooked eggplant, add to simmering sauce. Instantly thickens and flavors a jar sauce!

                                                                    1. I'm glad I have a good sense of self. SOME of the comments would make a weaker person feel inadequate.

                                                                      My next topic: "How to doctor up a Hot Pocket"

                                                                      Thanks for the responses. A lot of you have given me some great ideas. I'll be on the lookout for some of sauces mentioned.


                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mamamia

                                                                        This cracked me up...I too have a small child and was going to ask this very same question, as I know there is a very vaulable couple minute's difference between adding a couple things to a premade sauce, rather than making simple sauce yourself...Also, what if you don't have tomato paste AND crushed tomatoes? For some reason I am always missing one of these, and the jarred sauce is a stand-alone item that can be used by itself, if necessary.

                                                                        That being said, I haven't found a good sauce, which for me is anything where sugar isn't in the top 5 ingredients.

                                                                        1. re: cctc

                                                                          I'm with you. I have an almost 2 year old and another baby due in 6 weeks. I work full time, cook about 4 nights a week and while I try to make most things from scratch, lately tomato sauce is just not at the top of my list.

                                                                          Rao's Marinara sauce is amazing. Expensive, yes, but addicting and worth it. I don't even feel the need to add anything, but when I do, I add some capers and olives and maybe mushrooms. That's all it needs.

                                                                          1. re: cctc

                                                                            Glad you have a sense of humor about this. Guess it would never occur to me to NOT have tomato paste and cans of good crushed tomatoes on the pantry shelf. I always have them, and have since I first lived on my own in college decades ago, since they have a near indefinite shelf life. The tomato paste in the tube that you keep in the fridge will save you hours of cooking, as I mentioned in my prior post. Cans of crushed tomatoes are something that i stock up on when the good brands go on sale and they're incredibly versatile for my mostly Chinese cooking, let alone making pasta sauce that isn't mucked up by sugar.

                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                              I sometimes can't use a whole can of paste so I put it back in the fridge in tupperware and it has lasted weeks!

                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                Tomato paste that comes in tubes lasts forever (or at least until I use it up). No guilt. No waste. No mold. No tupperware.

                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                    It was actually the cost and the waste that I considere when I switched to the tube.

                                                                                    It's not at all more expensive when I take into account each time I throw away the can of moldy tomato paste after I use the one tablespoon of it that the recipe calls for.

                                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                                      I freeze the tablespoons and grab as I need. Many recipes I use call for much more than a tablespoon so I never end up wasting.

                                                                          2. re: mamamia

                                                                            It's definitely good to have a sense of humor.

                                                                            It's one thing to say "make the sauce in the time it takes the water to boil" but that assumes you aren't changing a diaper, inspecting art projects, handing out carrots to fend off desperate hunger pangs, finding a favorite toy, and doing twelve other things (washing enough plates for dinner? refereeing sibling fights?) while the water is boiling.

                                                                            1. re: mamamia

                                                                              I am, have have been, a start from scratch cook for 60 years but I have watched my divorced daughter juggle a full time job, 3 kids, 9 to 3 years old, the accompanying school events, little league x 2, scout leader, etc. etc. and I have no questions about why one would take the shortest way to anything!
                                                                              Last time I visited I opened a jar of Classico/basil sauce and added a bit of heavy cream. That was well received. Another time I did a Michael Chiarello trick. I picked up Turkey/Italian sausage. Squeeze out three separate lumps of sausage into a frying pan. Brown the unformed "meatballs". Add the jarred tomato sauce and then add to spaghetti. Worked as such and then I did the same in an 8x8 inch pan with the sausage on top for her to heat up later in the week.

                                                                            2. I always keep a few jars of CERIELLO'S sauces around.

                                                                              To jazz up a jarred sauce I saute a few cloves of garlic, red pepper, and some chopped onion in EVOO. Add 1-2 TBS tomato paste from a tube. Add some red or white wine, cook down, then add sauce and 2-4 Tbs chopped parsley. You can also add some sauteed pancetta or Italian sausage.

                                                                              1. My reliable jarred sauces are Rao's marinara and Cento's vodka; the latter is an exceptionally fine textured sauce (not too fatty, btw) that glazes pasta beautifully. Those two plus Roland's pesto from Liguria (a pesto that is more subtle than American pestos) are my pantry standbys.

                                                                                If I am not making a proper ragu, I don't want ground meat it my sauce. For meat with a jarred sauce, I prefer pan-poached and browned hot Italian sausage (sliced thinly on the bias), diced pancetta browned with garlic in oil before adding the sauce, or nicely browned small meatballs (polpettini, I guess). Sausage offers the most flavor and texture contrast bang for the buck. Otherwise, finely minced parsley or chiffonade of basil sprinkled atop the steaming hot sauced pasta will do.

                                                                                Keep it simple; that's the point of the jarred sauces. And it is less work than making from scratch (which I love to do, too).

                                                                                Do finish cooking the pasta in the sauce in the pan, with some of the pasta cooking water (in other words, dilute and then reduce the sauce with that water; the result is better than if you skip the step) and serve on warmed bowls/plates.

                                                                                1. I love putting either red wine like cabernet sauvignon or some vodka in the sauce and let it reduce down. I also like it spicy so I also put some red pepper and I also put dried wild mushroom. I buy dried mushrooms and then grind them to a powder in a coffee grinder. I sprinkle that on almost everything.

                                                                                  1. You should try some imported Capers or even Roasted Red Peppers, That's with the garlic and the olive oil. or you can throw some Wine(let it simmer for 10 min to get some of the alcohol out) or Crushed Red peppers. Mix and Match some of these and you will not be sorry............................................(my personal favorite, i use all of the above)...

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: FoundKrack

                                                                                      i also like rao's the best - just the simple ones... like the tomato & basil and the arrabiata. don't expect it to taste like what they actually serve at rao's... just a good separate sauce on it's own.

                                                                                      it's usually $7-8 here in nyc, but if i ever see it on sale for $6, i snatch a few to keep on days where i want to mindlessly dump some into a baked ziti or over ravioli.

                                                                                    2. I like Whole Foods' house brand (365) pasta sauces - not sweet, and actually very inexpensive. Last night I added frozen artichoke hearts, chopped kalamata olives, and (just for the heck of it) some lightly cooked zucchini I was going to eat on the side. Good enough for leftovers.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: dubedo

                                                                                        I use the 365 brand organic fat free sauce and it's pretty good! My mom taught me a trick years ago - add some crushed fennel seeds to any jarred sauce and it really improves the taste.

                                                                                        1. re: mimilulu

                                                                                          I have recently been adding fennel seeds. They are great because they mimic the Italian sausage flavor.

                                                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                                                            Yes on fennel seeds in tomato sauce!!! My best lasagna recipe calls for adding extra bruised up fennel seeds to the meaty-sausagey sauce mixture...and there is also a fabulous Moroccan Chicken and Eggplant recipe on Epicurious that includes fennel seeds crushed up for a *magical* result...

                                                                                        2. People spend $7 for a jar of sauce? Ouch. That's crazy talk.

                                                                                          I make my own but keep a couple of jars of Whole Foods sauce for emergency purposes. I usually add a little anchovy paste to richen up the flavor. Sometimes a crushed clove of garlic too.

                                                                                          But really, $7 for a jar of sauce? I can make a pretty good meal for the two of us on $7.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: bryan

                                                                                            Thanks for your comment, Brian! I've been reading all these comments: "expensive but good," "use Whole Foods," "organic" etc. I'm OK with freezing sauce for several meals, but for a single person on a reduced income, even starting @ $7 would be a stretch. I'll stick with canned tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Pasta and sauce CAN be an economy meal.

                                                                                            1. re: hvsk

                                                                                              it IS crazy talk to spend $7-9 on sauce but that also depends on who's eating and how you look at it...

                                                                                              we rarely go out to dinner (maybe once every 3 months) due to food allergies. what also keeps us home is having a 2.5 yr old who behaves well when eating out but we don't like taking chances. we also find going out to eat really expensive. $12 for a glass of wine! heck i could buy a whole decent bottle for $15. so when you look at it that way, rao's isn't too expensive.

                                                                                              i also think of all the food i wasted that my toddler didn't eat after hours of preparation makes me keep going back to raos. i could probably braise garbage in rao's and he'll eat it. we can actually use one jar for multiple meals as well so $9 divided by 3 x 2-3 meals equals not such a bad deal. sure beats a $10 plate of pasta and sauce at the restaurant!

                                                                                          2. By far, the single easiest, most flavor effective addition to any jarred/canned sauce I've ever used is a tsp of roughly ground fennel seed per pint.

                                                                                            1. Aside from the much aforementioned eggplant chunks and crushed garlic, one of my favorite additions is beans. Love using limas or edamame along with some carmelized onions.

                                                                                              I also love stirring in ricotta cheese to creamify.

                                                                                              I even sometimes add toasted croutons at the last minute.... I drizzle bread cubes with butter then coat in garlic powder mixed w/ panko crumbs, and either pan saute or bake til crispy.

                                                                                              1. my thoughts are if you're going to spend all this effort in doctoring a jarred sauce, it's just as easy to make your own and play with that and no extra time to open a few cans of san marzanos than it is to open a jar of sauce.

                                                                                                1. Cool suggestions so far. I love a simple sauce of Muir Glen fire roasted tomatos, salt, a little pepper, and EVOO (strange how that acronym has caught on, eh?). For a touch more doctoring use bay leaf and/or basil, and/or carmelized onions. (When I remember to I carmelize a bunch at a time -- usually by oven roasting -- and freeze in an ice cube tray. Separate and store in the freezer in a zip bag.)

                                                                                                  These tomatos come crushed, chopped, or whole. With the chopped or whole I drain the juice and just drink it, or use for an amazing bloody mary. Puree the solid parts, or just add the chopped and hand crush the whole.

                                                                                                  1. Ok, you asked for this and I'm not ashamed. I know there's a dozen Italian Mama's rolling in their graves, but my favorite jar of Spaghetti Sauce, yes folks is......Great Value, available only at your local Walmart!!!!

                                                                                                    Now Now, stop the voodoo dolls, the Tomato and Garlic, very thick, not overly salty, (I don't add any spices at all). The only thing I do add is ground beef and sweet Italian sausages, diced green peppers, onions and mushrooms. My family loves it and more often then not, I'm asked for "My" recipe for "My" spaghetti sauce.

                                                                                                    BONUS: $1.00 PER BOTTLE

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: othervoice

                                                                                                      Not laughing othervoice - I agree with you on the Great Value brand - it's delicious. I add alittle Italian sausages, onion, garlic and about a teaspoon of sugar to mine and no one knows the difference.
                                                                                                      I use it in lasagna and everyone raves about the sauce - little to they know....

                                                                                                    2. I think jar spagetti sauce should be illegal. I make my sauce ahead (takes 2 hours simmered on the stove, very little prep & ingredients) and freeze it. A big batch keeps for 6-12 months in the freezer. I dated an Italian guy and he spit my feeble attempt at sauce across the room. That's when his mom's friend, an old Italian man (in prison now) taught me how to make real sauce and I never went back . . .It's so easy you might want to learn how.

                                                                                                      1. Problem is, you're usually starting with a ton of salt and preservatives. Better to use an organic, low salt starting point and go from there.

                                                                                                        1. sauté garlic and onions in olive oil then add sauce to it don't over cook the garlic a little turning of color is good enough if it burns it will be terrible.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: widehomehi

                                                                                                            I can understand being too busy especially during the week to make spaghetti sauce. I like to make a huge batch of sauce and freeze it so I can have homemade anytime I want.

                                                                                                            If I was going to use a bottled sauce, one suggestion would be to add a half cup of dry red wine and whatever meat you want (hamburger, Italian sausage, etc.). Try to let the sauce simmer slowly for 30-45 minutes.

                                                                                                          2. One a day when I do have time to cook, I brown a big batch of ground beef with a couple of sliced onions. I keep it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Pull out as much as you need to add to spagetti sauce, quick tacos or quesadillas, etc. I've found that it is more flavorful to season it with garlic, basil, oregano, etc when I thaw it. That way I can also tailor the seasonings to the meal (cumin, chili,etc for a quick facsimile of mexican)

                                                                                                            1. chop up some sun dried tomatoes and heat it up in the sauce. good for either fresh sauce or bottled.

                                                                                                              1. although this is an old post, i'm with mamamia and bryan. although i'd enjoy rao's, i'm not about to waste it on my 4 year old who eats pasta (and everything else) while holding her nose and my 1 year old who thinks its face paint. and with them, i hardly have the energy to boil water and open a jar, if that. since i hate people who don't respond to my original post, here goes:

                                                                                                                i agree with the vote for barilla--i find it has about half the sugar of some of the other brands too. i also love trader joe's roasted garlic cuz it's got chunks of garlic in it.

                                                                                                                sometimes, if i'm feeling energetic enough to cut open a bag of some frozen stuff and open a couple more jars, i'll add chicken strips, pine nuts, frozen spinach or broccoli and roasted red peppers or sundried tomatoes. and mix in some cream sauce to make it pink. not too shabby.

                                                                                                                1. I read through some of the posts and got a good laugh at one, no offense but taking canned tomatos/sauce is cheating and not making it from scratch, from scratch you get the ripe tomatos and start smashing and blending some for the sauce. But not too many people have time to walk around grab ingredients that think will fit well into a sauce and make it from scratch.
                                                                                                                  I'm a mother and a military wife, I'm also part italian grew up in an italian family learned a thing or two about quick easy pasta sauce.
                                                                                                                  Italian sausage is a lifesaver for one, so good, sometimes i fry it up and toss it in or I just toss it in ad let it simmer.
                                                                                                                  Onions gotta love the onions.
                                                                                                                  Extra italian seasoning.
                                                                                                                  Of course salt and pepper.
                                                                                                                  Bell peppers of all colors very good gives the eyes something to look at too. (Go light on them if they don't always agree with you.)
                                                                                                                  Meatballs very simple and quick to make especially if you bake them... while they bake you can be chopping and viola by the time you've got the sauce about ready toss the meatballs in let simmer for a few and yum yum.
                                                                                                                  If you are feeling like you want more there are so many things, zuccini and squash, smoked sausage, kielbasa, WINE!!, and any other spices you may like.
                                                                                                                  When I'm in a hurry though I run to the store, grab bertoli's (So good bertoli's is sooo soo good) usually the portebello mushroom and merlot. They have other wonderful flavors to. That brand of sauce is the first and only one that I have found I love from canned/jarred sauces. Not sweet not too tangy. Always just right especially when feeding the family. Gives you that yum feeling the warm fuzzy yum feeling :)
                                                                                                                  Happy sauce making.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Aestia

                                                                                                                    Laugh all you want, but many of the top chefs in the world (such as Mario) will often use high quality canned tomatoes. (As above, I like the "fire roasted" Muir Glen.) Adding some of these to a jarred sauce just right before plating really perks it up.

                                                                                                                    Question: You use "Italian seasoning"? As opposed to fresh herbs? Or separate dried ones? Personally I find that being able to control the specificity of what I'm using lets me match a sauce better to the rest of the sauce's ingredients as well as the rest of the meal. This works very well with jarred sauces.

                                                                                                                  2. Many years ago there was a TV ad for Prego or Ragu that touted the contents of the tomato sauce and ended with the mom or mom-in-law doctoring it up and the tag line that that's "a good place to start".

                                                                                                                    I never had to cook for kids so there were no time constraints other than my own. Before I retired, half the time for dinner I reheated something previously made, and after dinner would at my leisure cook several portions worth of something else, to be refrigerated or frozen in portions for future use. Much less stressful, and it gave me the freedom to prepare slow-cooked dishes. I never got into crockpot cooking. In the morning, I was always rushed - much faster to portion out the pot of soup or stew that had been cooling on the porch overnight than to prep a variety of ingredients for the crockpot.

                                                                                                                    I haven't bought jarred sauce for at least a decade. Too much sodium and HFCS. I like a very sweet tomato sauce but achieve it with caramelized onions and Splenda. And even the everyday store brands are more expensive than buying fresh vegetables and canned tomatoes.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                      RE "too much sodium": Not necessarily. Trader Joe's sells an Organic Marinara Sauce that has only 30 mgm of sodium per 1/2 cup versus 300-700 mgm in the name brands. This is a delicious tomato-y sauce that is a useful and convenient base for many dishes, for anyone cooking for a low-sodium person.

                                                                                                                    2. Very interesting however, every time I add the browned ground meat to my doctored jar of sauce (Prego etc) , it immeadiately becomes bland. I have tried adding tomato paste, but it still doesn't 'bite'. Do I need to add a dump truck full of paste or is there something else tart that i can add?

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Limey1

                                                                                                                        It depends on the cut of meat. If you use very lean ground beef, it comes from pieces that don't have a lot of flavor to begin with. A mix of beef chuck (or neck or shin or tail or skirt or brisket) and ground Italian pork sausage meat would a place to start.....

                                                                                                                        Prego has too much sugar to start with, and it's made foremost with tomato puree, which is a guaranteed recipe for blandness; I would be using a jarred sauce with tomatoes (whole or diced) as the first ingredient, not puree, and no added sugar.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Limey1

                                                                                                                          I also use Prego but it's too tomato -y for me( all the brands are) so I'll tone it down a bit with a bay leaf, add some oregano, garlic and chili flakes in addition to the beef or sausage.

                                                                                                                        2. I tend to do a fast saute of sliced onion and garlic, and then add 2 small shredded zucchini and one small shredded carrot to that along with mushrooms and maybe capers; then add the sauce and simmer.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                            I usually brown the onions add garlic etc and then add the ground meat and when browned I add a can of tomato paste and the Prego sauce. The meat seems to overpower the tomato / marinara color and taste. I have added red pepper flakes and that hots it up, but it's still doesn't taste like a good tart marinara or pizza sauce.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Limey1

                                                                                                                              Well, caramelizing the onions amplifies the sweetness factor, which dulls the brightness.

                                                                                                                              Good marinara or pizza sauce is made from whole tomatoes, not tomato puree - tomato puree (which is what Prego is, plus sugar and seasonings) is comparatively bland and watery.

                                                                                                                          2. i use rao's marinara sauce. it's not cheap $8-9 (sometimes i can find it at target for a dollar less than WF) but it tastes like i've been slaving over the stove for hours. it's not sweet or over herbed like most sauces and the jar is pretty big. i've been doing simple shredded black kale sauteed in olive oil mixed in the sauce. i serve it with fusilli and sprinkle some romano. i'm currently in love with black kale in tomato sauce. my 2 yr old and my husband both love it.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                              Thank you everyone. I have used the Rao's but I too found it too expensive. I'm going to take Karl's point and try adding some whole canned tomatoes (diced). If that don't work I guess I'll have to break down and make some from scratch or get married.

                                                                                                                            2. To those who have added ground beef directly to any canned or jarred prepared sauce, I too have found the bland issue. Even sadder is that I noticed it at the age or 10 when I was served it as a child.

                                                                                                                              Since then as an adult, I;ve only added meatballs (usually homemade), sausage (link or crumbled), or braised pork shoulder or pork chops which have been cooked, seasoned and then shreadded.

                                                                                                                              Th ground beef issue came to light after adding the cooked and crumbled meat as a pizza topping and noticing the same blandness as a result. Heavy seasoning when browning usually allieveates the problem. Sauteing mushrooms before adding to any sauce also helps cutting the blandness they tend to add.

                                                                                                                              I usually make all my own Italian sauces as after testing and reporting on over a dozen jarred sauces, the amount of time, effort and cost to doctor them often is more than what it would take to make it yourself.

                                                                                                                              They have their place indeed, but I only keep Neuman's Own Sockarooni, Mamma DiSalvo's Spicey Marinara and Mezzetta Napa Valley Bistro Creamy Marinara around for the yearly blizzard or impending Zombie Apocolypse.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                                                                                                                Good point. I grind my own beef but don't even consider using it in pasta sauce. Too blah. There are too many other flavorful options.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jjjrfoodie

                                                                                                                                  u need more than just spaghetti sauce after a zombie apocalypse according to the CDC

                                                                                                                                2. Sausage hamburger meat pork chops even bacon crisped.
                                                                                                                                  Mushrooms onions garlic bell peps tomatoes fresh basil lots more seasoning and a dollop of butter, cream / milk at the end if "Bolognese-ing"

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                    Actually with Bolognese the milk is added early on. Here's what M. Hazan says:

                                                                                                                                    "Cooking the meat in milk before adding the wine and tomatoes protects it from the acidic bite of the latter."

                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                      And, while there are many classic renditions where the order of reductions is different, I have to say that, based on my taste testing of the variations, Hazan's judgement on this point is accurate (though I should clarify that when she refers to "latter", she means both the wine and the tomato, as both are acidic).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                        That's the way I read it also. I used my last recently for green lasagne so will be making a huge batch again soon.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                        from my Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking she [Marcella Hazan] states on page 204, recipe for Bolognese Meat Sauce is 203-205 section 3. "Add the milk and let it simmer gently"

                                                                                                                                        a cookbook I prefer over this recipe, however, states to:

                                                                                                                                        stir in 1/4 cup whipping cream just before serving, this way is my preference due to liking the pink color it imparts and the end result is cutting acidity.

                                                                                                                                        just reviewed my Alex's Day Off show where she did a Bolognese for her lasagna and she too, used milk, looked like whole fat, just before the sauce was finished.

                                                                                                                                        it's a matter of preference and mine is shortly before serving

                                                                                                                                    2. Back in the Day, I'd add sherry, some olive oil, oregano and smoked mozzarella, and stir it in. Once in a while, if I had spare cash, I'd buy calamari legs and throw them in at the last minute. It was pretty good, actually. Albeit a tad on the thick and granular side.

                                                                                                                                      1. For some variety, consider this super quick vegetarian pasta dish that doesn't involve a marina-type base.

                                                                                                                                        Cook your favorite pasta. About three or four mintues before the pasta is cooked, scoop a ladle or two of the pasta water out of the pot and reserve. Continue cooking the pasta.

                                                                                                                                        Put a small tube of fresh goat cheese into a sauce pan. Add some of the pasta water and stir. Continue this process until the sauce gets to a consistency that is thin enough for you to use as a sauce.

                                                                                                                                        Depending on you time and ingredients on hand, you can...

                                                                                                                                        ... add some asparagus cut into 2 inch lengths (steamed briefly earlier in the day works just fine)

                                                                                                                                        ... add some cherry tomatoes, cut in half, if necessay

                                                                                                                                        ... add some mushrooms and/or onions sauteed earlier in the day

                                                                                                                                        ... add some broccolini steamed briefly earlier in the day (or broccoli rabe if you like its bitter taste)

                                                                                                                                        ... add some Swiss chard torn into small pieces

                                                                                                                                        ... any combination of the above or anything else that appeals to you

                                                                                                                                        Heat sauce together with add ins.

                                                                                                                                        If you have not used Swiss chard, consider topping each portion with fresh arugula.

                                                                                                                                        Feel free to tinker. If you don't want to use all goat cheese, consider adding some other creamy ingredient (e.g. half and half or Greek-style yogurt) Consider adding some tomato paste from a tube if you want to keep more of a tomato flavor profile.

                                                                                                                                        And here's another vegetarian recipe with a meat variation:

                                                                                                                                        Caramelize a generous quantity of onions any time you have some spare time. (These can be refrigerated until you use them, even over a couple day span.)

                                                                                                                                        Any time you cook a chicken breast that isn't heavily coated with sauce, consider cooking one or two extra so you can use the chicken sliced or diced and added to this vegetarian recipe.

                                                                                                                                        As you re-heat the onions at dinner time, add lengths of thin asparagus and heat them through until tender crisp. Ditto if you are adding pre-cooked chicken.

                                                                                                                                        Meanwhile, cook your favorite pasta. Combine all the ingredients and toss with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Pine nuts sprinkled on top are lovely but certainly drive up the cost.

                                                                                                                                        As a variation, consider tossing the pasta and ingredients with prepared pesto sauce. Sauces n'love makes an excellent fresh version of pesto available at many Whole Foods. Scarpetta is a shelf-stable version of this from the Sauces n'love company.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                                          Sauces n'Love is the only brand of jarred sauce I buy. I always have a container of their marinara sauce in the fridge for those nights when I really don't have the time or the inclination to make my own. It's excellent on pizza and when stirred with a little cream and butter, is delicious over gnocchi.

                                                                                                                                          ETA: Yes, I've tried Rao's, but the only thing that makes their sauce any better than anyone else's is the larger quantity of good olive oil they use. I can add my own oil, spend less, and have the sauce taste better.

                                                                                                                                        2. I blitz sundried tomatoes or oven-dried tomatoes in the food processor and toss them into pasta or pizza sauce. Makes it a bit sweeter, and great for a margherita pizza.

                                                                                                                                          I've also simmered dried porcini mushrooms until soft, chopped them up, and added them to store-bought marinara with a bit of their cooking liquid and a tiny splash of cream. This idea came from a recipe for Gnocchi with that simple sauce.

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: NearestForK

                                                                                                                                            Both of those sound really good - and not just for the jarred stuff.

                                                                                                                                          2. It depends on how much flavour is already in the sauce. The Classico roasted garlic and onion sauce (our absolute favourite) needs NO doctoring. Just brown up some ground beef and an italian sausage, add the sauce, and make sure the meat is cooked through. Less strongly-flavoured sauces benefit from an onion and some garlic and a longer cooking time.

                                                                                                                                            I often buy canned tomato with basil and use that as my sauce base.

                                                                                                                                            1. Saute the meat of choice -- Italian sausage, pork, what have you.

                                                                                                                                              Saute onion / extra garlic.

                                                                                                                                              Add tomato paste -- maybe even saute a bit with the meat / veg. Deglaze with red wine. Or just rinse the jar out with red wine.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                                                That's what confuses me. If the jarred sauce is switched for a can of tomatoes and some herbs and then your steps are added, doesn't one have pasta sauce at a fraction of the cost and probably far fewer "other things" that processed foods are so full of?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                  That's what I'm saying?!
                                                                                                                                                  Say you like a smoother sauce, crush up or use a more pulverized canned tomato. In any normal store you can buy whole peeled, diced, crushed, and puree. I say away from sauce in a can because sometimes they do add things (one brand has bell pepper which I despise in sauce).

                                                                                                                                              2. I love the Muir Glen line of organic pasta sauces. Mushroom, garlic, cabernet, tomato and basil - I think I like them all. They require very little doctoring. If I'm putting them over a stuffed pasta like ravioli, I don't bother with doctoring at all.

                                                                                                                                                My husband usually doctors them to make an "arrabiatta" sauce for something like penne. He sautés some crushed garlic and crushed red pepper in olive oil, adds the pasta sauce, heats and voila! it's done!. Be careful because it's easy to overdo the garlic and chile flakes (crushed red pepper) so go easy! Especially for toddlers.

                                                                                                                                                If I'm in the mood for making a ragu, it's more involved and doesn't save time, but I brown Italian sausage, add chopped onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Saute until nicely browned/translucent, then add the bottled pasta sauce and let simmer for 20 mins. I might add a little red wine before the 20 min simmer.

                                                                                                                                                BTW I now always used jarred sauces for my pasta sauce base. I've just ended up liking the results better that way. Maybe it's because of the Muir Glen brand.

                                                                                                                                                I don't boil water to cook my pasta either - LOL! I use the Fasta Pasta cooker in the microwave. This totally skips the water boiling step.

                                                                                                                                                1. fry up some peppers and onions and combine with sauce...

                                                                                                                                                  1. Barilla sauce requires the least amount of fixing for our tastes.

                                                                                                                                                    Yes, I usually make my own.

                                                                                                                                                    But life happens and sometimes nuking a jar of sauce is the best you can do, short of resigning yourself to a peanut butter sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I love making my own pasta sauces -- but, honestly, it is NOT as simple as pouring some pre-bottled sauce over some noodles and shoving it in the microwave. Esp. when you consider the dishwashing!
                                                                                                                                                      So, when I want to " jazz up" a bottled sauce, I generally add some mascarpone into it, as well as some fresh herbs and some wine, if I have it on hand.

                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: anakalia

                                                                                                                                                        white linen marinara - best store bought sauce ever. you can doctor it up but it doesn't require much. sold at Costco

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: wano

                                                                                                                                                          i remembered your post regarding white linen...and what was i thinking buying raos? white linen from costco at $4.99 for a giant jar rules! it's as good as Rao's for the fraction of the cost. thanks for chiming in. i'm hooked.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: anakalia

                                                                                                                                                          Do you keep precooked noodles on hand? Confused by this description.

                                                                                                                                                        3. I started this thread several months ago, maybe not this original, but the same thing. I was desparate to find a tast, zesty ground meat sauce and I tried most of the suggestions. Now I have made my decision, most of everything said is bull corn! I am back to a bottle of Ragu with ground Italian sausage and onioin- not the heavily seasoned meat from sausages, just plain ground Italian suasage meat Some salt and pepper and that's the best sauce you can make period. I will say that I learned that ground hamburger does add to the bland, but other than that I learned very little, except, do your own thing, there's no such thing as an expert.

                                                                                                                                                          1. How did I find this post, I just noticed it is so old.

                                                                                                                                                            I just got finished making a jar full of 'arrabbiata salsa di peperoncini' that consists of 7 roasted sweet red bells, 3 ghost peppers ( know as bhut jolokia from India), 4 cloves of garlic, some ground cumin and some ground coriander plus olive oil. An immersion blender was used to puree this sauce. This is what I use to 'doctor' up spaghetti sauce.

                                                                                                                                                            Since you don't have time to create such a sauce, I suggest that you purchase a 5 ounce bottle of hot sauce of your choice to add to the jar sauce.

                                                                                                                                                            My favorite jar sauce when I need it is Classico. It is rare that we use a jar sauce because my wife of 51+ years is of Italian heritage. She makes 'gravy' (I hate that term, but those of Italian heritage like to use it.) from scratch.

                                                                                                                                                            Vivi, ama, ridi e mangia bene (Live, love, laugh and eat well)

                                                                                                                                                            1. I usually make a homemade sauce that I use for this recipe, but see no reason why it won't work great with a basic, good quality, jarred sauce. I saute a large, thinly sliced shallot with some thinly sliced garlic and a good amount of red pepper flakes. When they are soft and starting to brown, I add in about a quarter pound of salami. For the salami I get it sliced about a quarter inch thick and cut it into bite size pieces. I also add in about 1/2 lb of spicy italian sausage and saute until the sausage is cooked. To finish, I add a good amount of capers and chopped kalamata olives along with sliced pepperoncini (I like a lot). Toss in the jarred sauce and heat it through and you are ready to toss with the pasta.

                                                                                                                                                              This is actually a very easy recipe and most of the ingredients I keep on hand. I can prepare this in the amount of time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta. Sounds like a lot of ingredients but they really do work great together.

                                                                                                                                                              1. May I please suggest you consider using Pomi diced or chopped tomatoes in the carton, if you are going to make your own "scratch" sauce? I recently read a few articles about canned vegetables and the dangerous chemicals that leech from the lining of the can into the food.

                                                                                                                                                                I make mine using Pomi chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, finely diced onion ( sometimes) and a touch of red wine. Then, I add to it, depending on what I am making. Browned meat or browned ground turkey. Variety of mushrooms. Olives. Parmesan cheese. Chopped spinach.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MRS

                                                                                                                                                                  Recently tried Pomi and the results were fantastic! So much real tomato flavor. If only I could recycle the packaging!

                                                                                                                                                                2. Use hunts tomatoe sauce (put full peeled jar plum tomatoes, and diced tomatoes in food processor and then put in pan with small jar of puréed tomatoe.) Add olive oil, sautéed green peppers, onions and garlic. Next add a little bit of sugar, pepper, red pepper flake (if you like it spicy) fresh basil, rosemary, thyme. Make sure to add plenty. Let sauce sit on medium heat for about 10 min. Add 1/4-1/2 a cup of red wine. ( best with chianti) let simmer for about 15 min. Add meats while simmering (meatballs, ground beef, sausage, beef shank etc) take of stove, put over pasta and enjoy ;)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Just a thought: if I was going to brown some beef or sauté some mushrooms, I might as well make a pasta sauce from scratch.

                                                                                                                                                                    Sunday gravy does take time, about 2-3 hours minimum, but not every pasta sauce is necessarily like that. There are a great many recipes that you can have ready in the time it takes for the pasta to cook, about 20-25 minutes worth.

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't have a favorite jarred sauce because I try not to cook too many things using processed food.

                                                                                                                                                                    That's not what you asked though.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. One jar Classico's four cheese mixed with one jar Classico's fire roasted tomato and garlic. Then add from the grocery store's salad bar: green olives with pimento, chopped; sun dried pickled tomatoes, chopped; roasted garlic, chopped; red onions, chopped. Then stir-fry all the veggies in medium heat in a deep stock pot with a half cup olive oil, some butter, and then add your favorite meat, finely chopped. (I used a venison and pork mix during Hurricane Ike.) After the stir fry, add the two jars of Classico and let simmer, during which time you can sprinkle in some dry mustard powder and a little cumin powder, a little thyme, even a little red chili powder. And voila! There you have it! Ready to top off some ziti pasta, angel hair spaghetti, or linguini pasta!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. I cannot bring myself to even think about making tomato spaghetti sauce anymore bc I've discovered Hoboken Farms red sauce - OMG it's insanely good. Half the time it doesn't even get onto the pasta, I just scoop it up with bread. Ahhh!

                                                                                                                                                                        1. One jar of Wegmans Classics Sauce(any variety, your choice)( they run about $2.39 as opposed to the very cheap or very expensive), one can of whole tomatoes crushed by clean hands, one can of box red wine, dash of Italian seasoning.....