Store-bought pasta sauce is a savior to all who are culinary underachievers — isn’t that all of us all, really? Popping open a bottle of Ragu and dousing cooked noodles with it is all you need to have a complete meal, full of comforting carbs. It may even make you feel a smidgen better about yourself as well. At least you’re not like those plebeians who subsist on SpaghettiOs and Chef Boyardee out of a can. Please, your sauce may be from a store, but at least it’s in a glass bottle, which we all know is the epitome of class. If you wish to fancify your store-bought sauce, we at the Clog have compiled some tips to help our fellow “cooks”— we use that term generously — out.
Store-bought sauce is the antithesis of freshness. Adding some aromatic herbs to your sauce can be just the thing to make you forgot you bought this stuff in Bear Market. Instead, the scent of basil in the air will make you think someone’s Italian grandmother made this just for you. We like rosemary, thyme and parsley, too, to accompany your sauce.
Add freshly grated cheese.
Cheese can hide a magnitude of sins. A sprinkle of parmesan or a dollop of ricotta is all you need to fool others into thinking you made this sauce yourself.
Butter falls into the same category as cheese. Adding it to anything will make it infinitely better. We recommend melting butter and tossing it over your cooked noodles before pouring on the sauce to make it a bit richer.
Retain pasta water.
Don’t throw away the leftover water from boiling your noodles. Add a couple of tablespoons to your sauce to thicken it up a bit and make it feel a tad richer.
Saute some vegetables.
This requires the most work out of all the suggestions, but it is well worth it. It will add some texture and huge amounts of flavor to your dish. Onions, broccoli, yellow squash and mushrooms are particularly tasty.
Add olives and capers.
All people have an old jar of olives in the back of their fridge, for some odd reason. Who knows what they were originally for, or how long they’ve been sitting there? What we do know is that their saltiness adds an excellent flavor component to sauce.
Add balsamic vinegar.
The tomatoes already lend acidity to the sauce, but the balsamic vinegar will further punctuate it and add a layer of extra sweetness, too. It will also darken up the sauce a tad, too, so don’t add too much. Brown tomato sauce can be a tad off-putting. A tablespoon or two should do the trick.
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Contact Nora Harhen at [email protected].