How to Improve Spaghetti Sauce from a Jar

Written by morgan o'connor
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How to Improve Spaghetti Sauce from a Jar
Fresh herbs can add extra flavour to your sauce from a jar. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Making spaghetti typically involves taking shortcuts. If you were to make it from scratch, it could take several hours to make this seemingly simple dish. Instead of taking all this time and energy to make homemade sauce and pasta, many home cooks use dry spaghetti and jarred sauce. Don't subject your family to another night of exactly the same meal by just using the sauce as it comes. Even when you're in a hurry, you can liven up pasta night by improving the sauce.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Saucepan
  • Sauté pan(s), optional
  • Garlic, optional
  • Onion, optional
  • Vegetables, optional
  • Meat, optional
  • Wooden spoon
  • Spices

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Pour the jar of spaghetti sauce into an appropriately-sized saucepan.

  2. 2

    Search your kitchen and pantry for herbs and spices. If you don't have time to make your own spaghetti sauce, chances are you don't have time to run to the store for specialised ingredients. Instead, create your own unique sauce based on what you already have.

  3. 3

    Sauté chopped garlic, sliced onions or vegetable pieces if you wish to add them to your sauce. Garlic and onions can add an extra burst of flavour, while vegetable chunks give the sauce a heartier consistency.

  4. 4

    Fry some minced meat, ground turkey or similar meat if you have it on hand. Both the meat itself and its drippings can dramatically improve the flavour of your canned spaghetti sauce.

  5. 5

    Add the garlic, onions, vegetables or meat with its drippings to the saucepan containing the spaghetti sauce. Turn on the heat to bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. Stir it frequently during this process

  6. 6

    Add any spices that you think would go well with your sauce creation. Typical choices include oregano, thyme and basil. A pinch of chilli flakes can add heat and complexity. Go beyond the ordinary by adding unusual spices; a dash of curry can round out the sauce's flavour, while smoked paprika makes a sauce reminiscent of harissa.

  7. 7

    Add extra liquid if you so desire and if you have time to cook the sauce for long enough to reduce it to its original consistency. Add a splash of vodka and some cream if you are a fan of vodka sauce, for example, or some red wine for a more complex flavour.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are feeling tentative and unsure of what to add to your sauce, read its label. Chances are it contains more than just plain tomatoes. Add more of any of the ingredients already in the sauce to brighten up its flavour without significantly changing it. For example, if your sauce contains garlic, mushrooms and green olives, add some of each. Even though the sauce already contains all of them, adding your own makes the sauce taste noticeably more homemade and fresh.

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