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Dressing Up Store Bought Spaghetti Sauce

February 21, 2009

Spaghetti sauce is one of those things that makes me think of large Italian grandmas with secret recipes that take hours to properly simmer and meld flavors.  I have no idea why I have this image, as growing up, spaghetti sauce in our family came out of a can or a jar with a bit of browned hamburger meat added.

Sometimes I really wonder where I came from.

My own recipe for “real” spaghetti sauce is a house fave that I’ll share another time.  It’s an ingredient intensive concoction that is best simmered for a few hours in a crock pot.  Sometimes you just don’t have time for the real deal.  And really, who among us does not have a lone can or jar of Hunts or Ragu collecting dust in the pantry?

A lot of us foodies tend to turn our noses up at such things.  But there’s nothing inherently wrong about these products–I mean, they’re nothing but tomato sauce with some spices (and preservatives, but we won’t get into that argument today).  They just need some help.  Some TLC.  And some of those ingredients we throw in our “real” spaghetti sauce.


  • 1 can or jar of ready made spaghetti sauce, any flavor
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine (whatever you like drinking–I used a Crane Lake Petite Sirah that was fabulous and under $5 a bottle)
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound of ground meat of your choice (chicken, turkey, italian sausage, beef)


Brown the meat, drain and rinse.

Dump everything in a pot and simmer for half an hour.  Seriously, that’s it.  You just want to stir to make sure the tomato paste and liquids are combined with the canned/jarred sauce, then simmer on low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced.  Nobody will believe it came out of a can.

Serve over pasta of your choice with parmesean, romano, or goat cheese.  Or all three. 😀  All three is good.

Oh, and garlic bread.

You could also add diced bell pepper and mushrooms or more diced tomatoes for a chunkier sauce.

Printable version.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2009 7:52 pm

    This is exactly the kind of thing I was googling for! Thanks a lot! I used fresh basil instead of dried, and added a little Parmesan cheese IN the sauce, plus cut up some cherry tomatoes and added them. Thanks again!

  2. Josh permalink
    July 22, 2012 6:06 pm

    It’s amazing what a little TLC can do. I had some left over sloppy joe meat in the fridge that I added to the pound of beef so all in all about 2lbs of beef. I also used some fresh oregano and sage (never used sage before) out of the garden. I made some fresh farmer’s cheese the other day and grated that on top along with some parmesan. It turned out pretty good and the kids ate it, so all is good. LOL Canned pasta sauce can be good after all.

  3. Lessa permalink
    February 22, 2014 6:06 pm

    Wow, Girl I hear you, I was a brown burger and canned sauce girl growing up, but since married and three girls later, I have developed a fever for Real Food, but I’m not too good to spice up a jar and serve as my own twist! Thank you for sharing, adding your blog. 🙂

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