To be a great host you need to present your guests with good food and great entertainment. But being a great host also means you know where to take shortcuts to make your life easier, without skimping on quality. This is where store-bought sauce comes in. It saves you a lot of time (that can be spent elsewhere) and with our tips, your guests won’t even taste the difference!
Homemade tomato sauce is more often than not better than the ones you’d find instore. However, even though a store-bought tomato sauce might not be made from scratch by yourself, no one will be able to taste the difference after the following tips! You won’t look the same way at a jar of tomato sauce again!
Because you want this sauce to taste homemade, it’s important to choose the highest quality tomato sauce you can find. Also, choose a basic tomato sauce with no added herbs or meat. This way, you can create any flavor you want and build it up as you like.
Start building a basic flavor foundation with garlic and onions. In a medium sized sauce pan, sauté the finely chopped onions and crushed garlic in a mixture of olive oil and butter until golden (not browned). Add your jarred tomato sauce and let it simmer.
Adding spices is a great way to tailor the sauce to match whatever you’re serving it with. For a kick, add crushed red pepper flakes. To make it more herbaceous, add fresh oregano, basil, and thyme. For an Italian flavor, you can also add crushed fennel seed.
Adding vegetables to your sauce will definitely make it look more like a homemade sauce. When sautéing the onions and garlic, add finely diced carrots and mushrooms. Once semi-cooked, add the jarred sauce.
Remember in a previous article we said you should never throw away the leftover parmesan rind? Well, now is the time to use it. Add the rind to your sauce while simmering; it will give the sauce a delicious cheesy and nutty flavor. Have vegan guests? Don’t worry, you can still get the same flavor by adding nutritional yeast!
If you want to make a meat-based sauce, it’s important to brown the meat separately, so you can drain off excess fat before adding it to your sauce. Otherwise, the sauce will be greasy.
Because you’re using jarred sauce, you don’t have to simmer it the whole day, but you still need to cook it somewhat to create a rich, flavorful sauce. About half an hour is enough.
You’re now ready to dazzle the guests with your “homemade” sauce!