Weeknight Meal Tip: Ways to Doctor Jarred Tomato Sauce to Add More Flavor

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Quick meals are a must during the busy holiday season, and we definitely turn to the grocery store for some help. Having a jar of pre-made tomato sauce on hand to pour over a bowl of pasta can be a life-saver when we’re tired and cranky! Here are a few tips on adding more flavor to this simple meal:

For doctoring purposes, we recommend heating up the tomato sauce in a pan on the stove. It doesn’t take much longer than in the microwave and allows you do make some tasty additions to the sauce!

Ways to Add More Flavor to Jarred Tomato Sauce:

1. Add meat and/or veggies: If you have just a little time, try sautéing some onions or crumbled sausage in a little bit of olive oil before adding the sauce. Some minced garlic will also add a good boost of flavor.
2. Add fresh or dried herbs: Jarred tomato sauce can be pretty bland, and a few teaspoons of oregano, thyme, or basil go a long way toward making this sauce taste good!
3. Add some zing: Try a few shots of Tabasco or a pinch of red pepper flakes!
4. Add salt: Most pre-made sauces will play it safe with the salt and end up tasting watered down or bitter. Try adding one teaspoon of salt at a time, tasting in between each addition, until the flavors start to come together.
5. Simmer: If you have the time, let the sauce simmer on the stove for 10 – 20 minutes to cook it down and concentrate the flavors.
6. Add some pasta water: A few scoops of the starchy water left from cooking the pasta will literally pull a soupy sauce together and give it a silky texture.
7. Add dairy: Just before serving, throw a half cup of cream, milk, or ricotta cheese into the sauce. This adds richness and flavor.
8. Add cheese: The ultimate cure-all! Some freshly-grated Parmesan on top of a bowl of pasta transforms it into a tasty and satisfying dish.

What other tricks do you have for doctoring up a jar of store-bought tomato sauce?

(Image: Flickr member Subspace licensed under Creative Commons)