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ISO a store-bought tomato based pasta sauce

that doesn't taste tomatoey, If there is no such animal, can I add something to the sauce to cut the acidity such as a bay leaf?

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  1. The really cheapo stuff like Prego doesn't taste much like real tomato to me.

    Better quality sauces strive to taste like tomatoes.

    But you can add other strong tasting ingredients that compete with the tomato.

    Garlic, onion, sausage, durian

    Bay leaves won't cut acidity. Sugar masks it. So that would be Prego.

    1 Reply
    1. re: C. Hamster

      We don't want the sauce to overpower the dish. We've been using Prego and find it too acidic. Maybe it's the amount of tomato paste they use. I always add garlic and hot Italian sausage but it doesn't help.

    2. Have you tried a Vodka sauce? These have a slightly creamy consistency that cuts the tomato. Most of the major brands have this variety.

      6 Replies
      1. re: pamf

        I've seen it on the shelves but haven't tried it yet. It sounds like what I'm looking for.

        1. re: mucho gordo

          Vodka sauce is really easy to make from scratch. I've made this one from Pioneer Woman and it is really good and easy:

          1. re: mucho gordo

            I know it's not "tomato" but have you ever tried roasted red pepper cream sauce? I've tried both jarred and made my own (I also keep jarred roasted red peppers on my pantry shelf, so it makes it that much easier - and it's almost as easy as opening a jar). It might fit the bill for you. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-...

          2. re: pamf

            I make vodka sauce a lot with store bought sauce. Cheaper than buying the vodka sauce in the jar. It really does tone down the sauce and no alcohol in it. It cooks off.

            1. re: katz66

              No, it does not cook off, at least a much more significant amount of alcohol remains than was previously believed. See this article: http://www.ochef.com/165.htm.

              1. re: zeldaz51

                So 15% of the alcohol remains of a half cup of vodka that is in a gallon of sauce.. With a cup of cream added to it. So you tell me how much alcohol does the one cup serving have in it? Don't forget to add the simmering time with top off.

          3. Rao's sauces are pretty good, but they are expensive and their secret is lots of EVOO. So maybe you could buy a cheaper sauce and add a flavorful olive oil.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Isolda

              Are you saying that adding olive oil will dilute the tomatoey taste?

            2. I like Safeway store brand vodka sauce. I used half a jar last night with some leftover grilled brats, sliced, over fettuccine. Not "authentic," whatever that is, but palatable with a half bottle of Chianti Classico.

              1 Reply
              1. Just an FYI - most Italian restaurants generally sell their sauce. Maybe worth a call or 2.

                1. Any reason you don't want to make your own? Easy as can be, cheap, doesn't take long, and the results are better than anything you can buy in the store.

                  1. Trader Joe's "Trader Giotto's Three Cheese Pomodoro Pasta Sauce" seems to have a pretty low acidity level. I'd describe the flavor as *grown-up Spaghettios*, if that strikes your fancy.

                    1. You could also try the rosa type sauces, like tomato sauce and alfredo combined.
                      Quite frankly, I use the bottom shelf, $1 Hunts 4 cheese in recipes.
                      If you want to cut acid, add bit of baking soda, or some sugar. Herbs won't cut acid.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: wyogal

                        Mix a jar of alfredo with a jar of prego?? That sounds interesting.

                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          They already make it, same concept as adding heavy cream to a tomato sauce. There are several brands. I like it for using in recipes, like mac/cheese casserole type stuff.Like this:

                          1. re: wyogal

                            I like the Bertolli brand and I think this would be a great way to go; well worth a try.

                            1. re: mucho gordo

                              It does have some small chunks of tomato in it, so if that is an issue, just put it in the blender (or use a stick blender) to puree.
                              It's great with a thick pasta and sausage in a casserole, add whatever cheese ya want, either melty (mozz.) or dry (parm.), or both, top with seasoned, buttered (or olive oil), Italian bread crumbs, bake.
                              I precook the sausage, either ground or links, then cut the links after cooking. Add to the cooked pasta and sauce.

                        2. re: wyogal

                          Thanks for the idea. That's exactly what I did last night. I mixed a half jar of roasted garlic alfredo sauce with a full jar of Prego spicy Italian sausage sauce. It was perfectly balanced and delicious.

                        3. i don't like the taste of vodka sauce....but i do like creamy, tomato-y sauces, so when i use jarred tomato sauce, i will often add a splash of milk or cream to it. i find this smooths it out and takes care of any "bite"

                          1. A couple of tricks might be adding a spoonful of sugar or a bit of shredded carrot and allowing it to simmer....both would add sweetness.

                            That said, especially in summer, there are so many tomato-based pasta topping ideas....even no-cook ones...then there's sauce with no tomatoes at all, like garlic and oil.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: pinehurst

                              Do you have a recipe for a garlic and oil sauce? I love the combo with clams but haven't tried it with hot Italian sausage.

                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                I've never had pasta aglio e olio with sausage before. That actually sounds pretty darn good. Perhaps with farfalle or cavatelli?

                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  Do you infuse the olive oil with minced garlic first or just add the garlic and pour the oil over everything until you've got a sufficient amount. Roughly how much oil is enough for a pound of pasta?

                              2. re: pinehurst

                                I mostly eyeball it. Get your favorite sausage and remove it from the casing (you can use whatever you like, chorizo, etc, but I like sweet Italian sausage so that the garlic can be the star). So, cook your sausage in a big, high-sided fry pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it's nicely browned. (PS at this time, your pasta water should be in another pan getting ready to boil) Fish out your sausage and set it aside, but keep the drippings in the pan. Add a layer of olive oil (1/2 cup, but have more handy) to this pan. To the oil, add your sliced garlic (you can mince, but I like slices...not too thin). If you're not a garlic head, go with six cloves. If you're a garlic head, use double that. Throw a pinch of salt on the garlic and cook it, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick or burn. When your garlic is golden and softening, drain your pasta but don't rinse it. Khan's right, btw...cavatelli or gemelli is really good for this. Or rigatoni. Whatever. I don't judge.

                                So dump the sausage back in with the garlic and oil, add a pinch more salt and some red pepper flakes (go easy if you don't like spice) and some black pepper. Stir well, tossing the sausage in the oil. Then dump your pasta in the big huge frypan and toss everything together.

                                If you like, you can dress with some freshly grated romano, fresh olive oil, and some parsley.

                                This is also good w/o the meat, or instead of meat, add a nice can of Italian tuna or two in at the end.

                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  That sounds fantastic and is easy enough for me. Question: Why is it better to pour the pasta into the sauce than pour the sauce into the pasta?

                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                    Better coverage and absorption into the pasta. If you take the pasta from the water about a minute early and put it into the sauce it will continue cooking in the sauce.

                                    1. re: Alfred G

                                      Interesting. I never knew that. Thanks.

                                2. Drop a rind of parmesan cheese into your sauce ...that should take away the acidity and add great flavor

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: lpatter

                                    I always add an abundance of asiago/parm/romano to my pasta as well as red pepper flakes.

                                  2. I think it is impossible to post on chowhound that you want to buy a jarred pasta sauce without someone chiming in that you should make your own.

                                    Anyway, I 2nd the recommendation for a vodka sauce, it's like a tomato cream type sauce.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      Agree. Maybe they're traveling, camping, or just want a jar in the pantry for emergencies. Maybe refrigeration is an issue.

                                      1. If acidity is your only problem, add a touch of baking soda. It will neutralize the acid. If you want to counteract the acidic flavor, sugar will trick the tastebuds.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          I'm afraid I'd put too much sugar in it but the baking soda should work for me. How much is a "touch",,,,a teaspoon or more?

                                        2. I like Mario Batali's Arrabiata sauce. If you don't like spicy food, it might be a touch spicy, but if you do like spicy food (even low-medium heat profiles), it ain't hot. I don't find it too acidic in the slightest and (as others have suggested) adding a touch of cream (even sour cream as it is a thin sauce to begin with) could mellow it for ya.

                                          Best pre-made/store-bought sauce I've ever tried and the only one I really buy.

                                            1. My 93 yr old italian mom never used sugar. To reduce acid she used baking soda. You see the chemical reaction and skim off the foam. What i don't know is how much she used.
                                              She sweetened sauce with carrots and thickened with pork like a few spare ribs. Of course she never used jarred or canned sauce....but i do.

                                              1. I add honey to most tomato based stuff if I'm using store bought tomato stuff

                                                1. Giada DeLaurentiis sold @ Target is good. Rao's was my 'must have in the shelf for a quick mid-week dinner. Giada's is 1/3 the cost and every bit as good.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Windsor

                                                    Huh. Never knew she had a sauce on the market. Might look if I ever get to a Target just for yucks.

                                                    1. re: Windsor

                                                      Does the label feature a pic of Giada? If so, my late brother would have stocked up on the stuff just because of that.

                                                    2. Posters have suggested cream and the rinds of parmesan and pecorino. Some other ideas could include cubes or crumbles of paneer, a fresh Indian casein curdled sans rennet,which is good for vegetarians; found today in many supermarkets or by mailorder from here:


                                                      These have a refreshing taste and will cut the acidity, while removing the aggressive tomatoey taste. You will have a main dish without needing to add anything else.

                                                      I have seen New Haven, CT, tomato sauce where whole dressed blue crabs were added to the sauce. I should prefer to add such crabs very lightly sauteed in olive oil and garlic, with a sprinkling of parsley and black pepper.