Kitchn Love Letters

I Finally Found a Jarred Pasta Sauce That Rivals the Fresh Stuff I Ate When I Lived in Southern Italy

published Mar 11, 2022
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My favorite meal is super simple: pasta with tomato sauce. When there are only two ingredients in a meal, they both have to be really, really good. I make fresh pasta daily for work, so the noodle part is sorted. The sauce, however, was harder to actualize: My gold standard for tomato sauce is the fresh passata di pomodoro that I got to taste straight out of the food mills in Southern Italy at the height of summertime. I’ve spent a ton of time, energy, and money searching for the absolute best jarred approximation of that first bite. And I’m happy to say that I finally found it — at my local farm stand. Luckily it’s also available online!

A few years back, I spent a month with different farming families in Puglia learning about their tomato processing traditions. It was an incredible experience both culinarily and culturally, and I still can’t shake how perfectly delicious the passata was at each home I visited. It was completely different from many of the American tomato sauces I’d found on grocery shelves back home. The only ingredients in passata are fresh, local tomatoes, a little salt, and sometimes some fresh basil. (I add good olive oil when heating it up with pasta). Those three simple components combined to become the most delicious thing in my flavor memory bank.

Credit: Katie Leaird

I’ve shopped my way through fancy cheese shops, Italian import catalogs, and the internet searching for something like Mama DeSantis’s passata (Mama DeSantis was one of the gracious hosts that took me in during my time in Puglia). I hadn’t had much luck until last summer when I stumbled upon something at a local farmstand here on Martha’s Vineyard. After tasting it once, I tracked it down online to buy in bulk for my home kitchen.

Credit: Katie Leaird

Perché Ci Credo tomato sauce has become my new favorite pantry product. There are a few different flavors available (like basil, peperoncino, olives and capers, ricotta, and sun-dried tomato) and it comes in delightfully attractive 11.6-ounce glass bottles. I gifted a bottle of Perché Ci Credo with my handmade pasta to friends this holiday season and it was a huge hit! I’m not saying this is as good as the fresh stuff from Southern Italy — nothing canned or jarred ever will be — but, gosh, it’s delicious. And convenient. And, I will continue to stock it in my home kitchen as long as I can get my hands on it.

What’s your favorite jarred tomato sauce brand? Tell us in the comments.