Chefs share 9 of their favorite ways to upgrade a basic jar of tomato sauce
Chefs shared their favorite ways to upgrade a jar of tomato sauce at home.
Unexpected ingredients like pancetta, fennel seeds, and tempeh can improve a sauce.
Fresh vegetables and ingredients easily add flavor and texture to a bland sauce.
Use mushrooms to give your sauce umami flavor.
Chef Chris Martin, founder of Savor The Passion, said mushrooms are loaded with umami flavor that can upgrade a sauce.
"I like to quarter my button mushrooms, toss them in oil, salt, and pepper, and then broil them. I like to broil until there isn't excess liquid in the pan, and right before they start sticking to the pan," Martin told Insider.
By cooking out the liquid, he explained, "you won't be adding water to the sauce, just pure mushroom-flavored goodness."
Get fancy and make a sauce heartier with a brunoise.
Yannick Tirbois, executive chef and cofounder at Culinary Ambition, recommends adding a brunoise, finely diced vegetables, to a jarred sauce.
"Sauté a brunoise or another cut of vegetables and add the sauce to it. Any vegetables in season can be used as long as they are cut into similar size pieces," Tirbois said.
Add jarred sauce to a pan of onions and garlic.
Sean Ferraro, chef and owner of Madison Avenue Pizza, said he recommends using onions and garlic to "add depth and flavor to the sauce" and a "hint of sweetness."
"Dice onions and saute in olive oil until they are translucent. Then, add minced fresh garlic and saute the garlic until it is aromatic for just a minute or two. Add the sauce to the pan and cook until incorporated," Ferraro told Insider.
Add hand-torn basil for a fresher, deeper taste.
Chef Carlotta Martinelli with The Chef & The Dish told Insider that adding fresh basil to your jarred tomato sauce is a great option to boost the taste.
"Basil is a delicate herb, so put down the knife and use your hands to gently tear the leaves, keeping as much of the essential oils in the leaves as possible," Martinelli said.
Add the basil in the last minutes of cooking to add freshness and depth to the sauce.
Fennel seeds can add flavor to a sauce.
Chef Michael Bertozzi, senior director of culinary and beverage for The Kitchen Restaurant Group, said "tomatoes and fennel are the perfect complements to each other."
"Toast the fennel seed in the oven or a pan and then either crush it in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Throw about a tablespoon into your jar of sauce as you reheat it," Bertozzi said.
When in doubt, add sauce to the sauce.
Chef Neel Kajale, test-kitchen manager and recipe developer at Haven's Kitchen Sauces, told Insider combining different sauces is an easy way to achieve a more well-rounded taste.
"Tomato sauce is often one-toned: You either taste the acid from the tomatoes or the sugar that's added to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. The best way to make it more well-rounded is to add flavor with spices or other sauces," Kajale said.
Use a combination of fresh and dry herbs.
Kajale told Insider that you could upgrade your jarred tomato sauce with seasonings you probably already have in your kitchen, like thyme and oregano.
The secret is to use a combination of these herbs in fresh and dry form for peak flavor.
"I like adding fresh and dried herbs to a hot pan with a little olive oil before mixing in the sauce. The herbs flavor the oil, which then imbues the sauce with flavor," Kajale said.
Pair garden vegetables with a dash of heat for a flavor pop.
Chef Kai Chase said you couldn't go wrong with garden vegetables and a dash of heat on top.
"I like to add roasted garlic, fresh basil, and sautéed chopped veggies like mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion into my sauce. This combination gives it a garden-variety taste and feel," Chase told Insider.
Sometimes they'll also add red chili flakes or a drizzle of garlic oil to the sauce.
Try adding tempeh for a more substantial sauce.
Vegan chef and author Linda Soper-Kolton told Insider tempeh is an excellent addition to a jarred sauce that can keep your meal meatless but make it more satisfying.
"Tempeh is a healthy, protein-rich, fermented food made from soybeans. When ground or crumbled, it also provides the familiar mouthfeel of meat sauce," Soper-Kolton said.
She said she recommends simmering the tempeh in a little bit of soy sauce and water, then draining the liquid before using it in any recipe. This can help remove bitterness from the ingredient.
Read the original article on Insider