7 Ways to Improve the Taste of Jar Pasta Sauce
We’d love to be able to whip up a fresh batch of homemade pasta sauce each time we’re making noodles, but that’s simply not the reality for most of us — especially busy moms. It’s usually easier to grab a jar of store-bought pasta sauce for a quick, easy weeknight dinner. Pasta sauce from a jar can still taste homemade. In fact, there are plenty of kitchen hacks to improve jar pasta sauce and make it taste as good as your grandmother’s recipe.
If you’re looking for ways to jazz up pasta sauce, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to make canned pasta sauce better. With these jar pasta sauce tricks up your sleeve, you can make boiling noodles and reheating some sauce taste like a gourmet meal.
To find out how to make that jar of pasta sauce sitting in your cupboard taste better, check out these top seven tips:
1. Sautee Some Veggies
The first step to making your jar sauce better is to sautee some garlic in olive oil on your stovetop. Though garlic is listed in the ingredients of most store-bought pasta sauces, adding fresh garlic will make the flavor more powerful and distinct. This makes the sauce taste more homemade overall.
Along with garlic, toss some other vegetables, such as diced onions, chopped peppers and chopped carrots into your skillet. While these ingredients will go nicely with most sauces, you can get more creative with your veggies and add a handful of spinach, strips of kale, chopped zucchini or cubed eggplant. In addition to getting an extra dose of nutrients, throwing in fresh veggies will give you a hearty, flavorful and homemade-tasting sauce.
2. Mix in Some Meat
After you’ve finished cooking your veggies, you can use the same pan to prepare some meat to add to your sauce. Mixing meat into your jarred pasta sauce will do wonders for making it taste high-quality. Browning and adding some sausage, turkey, chicken or ground beef will increase your sauce’s flavor, incorporate extra texture, infuse a heartier taste and up the protein content.
Italian sausage is one of the best meats to add to your canned pasta sauce to achieve that classic Italian taste. Whether sliced, ground or formed into meatballs, Italian sausage can give your pasta dish the flavor boost it needs. As a bonus, stirring some protein-packed sausage into your pasta sauce will leave your family feeling full longer.
3. Add a Splash of Red Wine
If you really want restaurant-quality pasta sauce, pour a bit of red wine into the pan. Wine does a beautiful job of adding another layer to the sauce’s flavors, giving jar pasta sauce a depth it usually doesn’t have. Because there won’t be enough time to completely cook out the alcohol, you’ll want to use just enough red wine in your sauce to enhance its flavor without lending too much of an alcohol taste — similar to baking with vanilla extract.
If you’ve just finished cooking meat in your skillet, make sure you drain the pan before adding other ingredients so you don’t get extra grease in the sauce. Then, stir in a bit of wine to release any bits of vegetables or meat that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. This is a cooking technique known as deglazing the pan. Using this cooking trick will help you incorporate flavors into your sauce that would have otherwise been burnt onto the cooking surface.
4. Spice It Up
Adding fresh herbs to your canned pasta sauce makes it taste like it came straight from the garden. While the pre-made sauce may already include some herbs, adding your own will help enhance those flavors. Tossing in strips of basil, a sprig of thyme or some oregano can take your sauce to the next level.
Although fresh herbs might pop a bit more, dried herbs and spices can work just as well. Sprinkling in some red pepper flakes, a pinch of parsley and a dash of salt and pepper can liven up your jarred pasta sauce. While you can incorporate dried herbs into the sauce at any point, you may want to wait to add fresh herbs as a garnish until you’ve finished heating the sauce so they don’t lose their fresh flavor.
If you really want to add some pizazz to your pasta sauce, include a bolder ingredient like olives, lemon zest or capers. Depending on which ingredient you choose, you can make your dish significantly brighter or deeper. Along with these flavorings, you can stir in a bit of tomato paste to add more tomato flavor and thicken the sauce if it seems too watery.
5. Get Cheesy
There is no limit to the amount of cheese you can use when it comes to making pasta. Sprinkling in cheese can make the flavors of your sauce more complex. Depending on the kind of sauce and pasta dish you’re making, you can use a wide range of cheeses from mozzarella to Parmesan.
Using a softer cheese can enhance the texture of your pasta. For example, topping the dish with a dollop of ricotta can add a delightfully creamy texture to the sauce. Consider incorporating some mascarpone, cream cheese, ricotta or burrata to make the pasta sauce texture smooth and silky.
6. Stir in More Dairy
Mixing in a bit of heavy cream or milk right before serving your sauce can make it creamy and rich. Giving your sauce a smoother, silkier texture will also allow it to cling to the pasta better. If you don’t have any dairy in the fridge, you can pour a hefty drizzle of olive oil over the sauce once you remove it from the heat to help the flavors blend and coat the pasta better.
For a professional chef move, stir a pat of butter into your pasta sauce just before you remove it from the stove. A bit of butter will temper the acidity of the sauce while enhancing the flavor and creating a smooth, velvety texture.
7. Pop It in the Oven
You can never go wrong using jarred pasta sauce in a baked pasta dish. When the pre-made pasta sauce bakes in the oven, the sugars caramelize as they cook down and deepen from taking on some of the flavors from other ingredients in the dish. For baked pasta dishes like lasagna, meatballs or baked ziti, jar pasta sauce is a great option.
Purchase Premio Italian Sausage at a Store Near You
If you want your jar pasta sauce to stand out, you’ll need to use the best ingredients around. Premio Foods offers a wide variety of Italian sausage made from fresh ingredients and no fillers — the way sausage should be! Along with classic Italian sausage products, we also offer specialty Italian sausage options to add even more flavor to your pasta dishes.
To make your canned pasta sauce taste like it came from a five-star restaurant, locate a store with Premio Foods sausage near you today.