The very best pasta sauce comes from the sun warmed tomatoes you’ve grown in your garden, accompanied by the herbs you just clipped from the backyard. It cooks in a pot on your stovetop all day, enticing you with its aroma. Most of us don’t have the time – or the garden – with which to make homemade pasta sauce. We’re busy; when we come home, we want a quick, easy solution to a home cooked dinner. We want something that is filling and hearty without spending hours cooking it. The best store-bought pastas can help bring the flavor and aroma you love to your table faster.
Store-bought pasta sauce varies dramatically from brand to brand; it can be thick and hearty or watery. It can have the taste of fresh basil or be overwhelmed with a mix of uncomplimentary herbs. According to several critics, Rao’s Homemade Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce is the best sauce you can get in a jar. It is fresh tasting, and the flavors of tomato, basil, and olive oil are balanced and delicious. For a 24-ounce bottle from your grocery store, it typically costs $9. It is tempting to skip the Rao and go for a cheaper brand. You can certainly do this, but if you want the taste of homemade without the work and time, this is the way to go. To make your jar stretch further, use a half jar on a pound of pasta instead of a whole jar or add to dishes like lasagna and manicotti.
Cooking Light, which tested a host of store-bought pasta options, gave Emeril’s All Natural Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce high marks for its “sweetness and a subtle basil taste.” It has a great texture and flavor. It also costs less than Rao’s sauce at $5 for a 24-ounce jar.
Vodka sauce can be a very nice change from standard tomato sauces. RealSimple tested 184 pasta sauces – sounds like a great job, doesn’t it! – and found 13 that passed muster. One was Mario Batali Alla Vodka Sauce, which is thick, spicy, and a touch sweet with its Parmigianino-Reggiano cheeses and San Marzano tomatoes. This is an excellent treat for the sophisticated palette; at $9 for a 24-ounce jar, it is a treat to be savored.
If your budget is calling for something a little less pricy, try Newman’s Own Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce. The proceeds from Newman’s Own products go to charity – but that’s not the only reason to buy this sauce. It’s good; it has a very garlicky taste that will complement a wide range of meals, and it’s less than $3 for a 24-ounce jar.
Sometimes a switch to a creamy Alfredo sauce can be just what you need to satisfy your appetite. Bertolli’s Alfredo Sauce was named the ChefBest award winner for best taste in 2008, and it’s still going strong. It has a great texture, and you can taste the sweetness of the cream and the bite of the cheese. Bertolli has excellent balance and will be great on your pasta dishes. It is under $4 and comes in different varieties, including Four Cheese Rosa.
Finally, why not try pesto on your pasta? This is a great change from either red or creamy sauces, and it can introduce a whole new set of flavors to enjoy. There are commercial varieties available at your grocery store, or you could pick up a few items and make it yourself. It really is quick and easy, we promise. You don’t have to spend all day cooking it to make a fabulous sauce.
If you don’t have time to slave away in the kitchen, no one needs to know! You can serve exceptional dishes with store-bought pasta sauces. You can also customize your sauce by putting in your favorite ingredients, like sausage or ground beef or parmesan cheese. These jars are wonderful staples to have in your pantry for those days when you want something filling and satisfying. Use them on pizza or as a dipping sauce for breadsticks. Make meatball sandwiches or just serve over your favorite pasta. No matter what you do, the sauces above will help you serve the best food in no time.
Pinkchic18 enjoys writing about foods, party planning, holidays and family time. She is also a regular contributor to the All About Gifts & Baskets Idea Blog, which has lots of great gift ideas which of course includes Italian food gift baskets.