Just because you buy spaghetti sauce in a jar or can, doesn’t mean you can’t make it taste more homemade and delicious. Here are ways I commonly doctor up my jars of spaghetti sauce to give them a more tasty flavor, and less of that pre-packaged taste.
The biggest issue that I have with jars of spaghetti sauce is how bitter or salty they usually are, sometimes both. Some brands are better than others (I find Hunt’s, which comes in a can, to be the sweetest, as opposed to Ragu, and Prego I just plain don’t like), but the first thing I do with spaghetti sauce from the store is sweeten it up with some brown sugar, or regular table sugar, whichever I have handy. About 2 level tablespoons per can or jar of spaghetti sauce works out great to balance the saltiness and bitterness of the jar of sauce to give it a more exceptional flavor.
I typically add about 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese or cream cheese to my spaghetti sauce as well, particularly if I am using a pasta noodle other than spaghetti noodles, such as rigatoni or macaroni noodles. The effects of adding the cottage cheese or cream cheese (or cream, if you’d like) to the sauce makes it creamier and gives it a cheesier flavor, almost like a lasagna. It’s a favorite in the household when I do this, and it makes for a romantic, flavorful sauce as well.
Sauteing onions, mushrooms, garlic pieces, and artichoke hearts together and tossing them in the sauce can make all the difference. Even adding a few jalapenos for a spicier sauce can work wonders to really make a great sauce out of a store-bought jar or can of sauce taste truly great. You can add whole olives as well, if your family likes them. I love olives (black olives, anyhow) but my fiance and all the kids hate them, so I only add olives when I am eating spaghetti for one.
note: Did you know you can boil spaghetti noodles in the microwave? It takes about 20 minutes and stirring every 3 minutes or so, but with enough olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together you can get great noodles in the microwave when you’re too lazy to wash a pan.
Adding orange slices to spaghetti sauce, oddly enough, really complements the tartness of the tomatoes and makes them taste sweeter. I discovered this recently, when on a whim squirted orange juice in my sauce, liked the taste, then chopped up oranges the size of diced tomatoes in the sauce while it was cooking. It was really delicious. If you’re adventurous, give this a try. Add just a few tablespoons of orange juice, or chop in a whole small orange. As a bonus, it stretches the sauce even further.
Toss in some zucchini or squash (either steamed or sauteed) to really add a nice flavor to the sauce. For that matter, you can add chopped spinach as well. For veggie lovers (has anyone noticed I never once mentioned adding meat? That’s the vegetarian in me), this makes a great sauce that has a terrific flavor. Baby corn is tasty too, I just wouldn’t recommend potatoes or water chestnuts. I didn’t go well with these 2.
There are many ways to really liven up jars or cans of spaghetti sauce, and it’s usually just with stuff you already have in the house. If nothing else, try adding sugar to the sauce, and you will notice a huge difference and better quality to the taste!