Ode to Jarred Sauces

Thoughtful thoughts on jarred Italian sauces and two recipes to complement your American Spaghetti repertoire.

I don’t know about you (although I am pretty sure you can relate), but when we needed a quick and easy meal at home growing up (as in at least one time per week), my mom made “Spaghetti.” Now, “spaghetti” officially refers to a shape of Italian pasta, but “Spaghetti Bolognese” would never have crossed my Midwestern mother’s lips, so. (Bolognese refers to a sauce of tomatoes, veggies, and meat, stewed.)

It helps that Spaghetti Bolognese has always been—and still is—one of my favorite foods. Even still, it is one of my go-to meals. Why is that? Since it’s everybody else’s go-to meal, they keep cranking out the jars of pre-made sauce and stacking up the boxes of spaghetti at nearly every store you walk in to. They make it so easy!

In honor of the American Spaghetti, I am going throw two recipes out there. For besides those alluring jars of marinara, most grocers (or all?) also carry (nearby) jars of Alfredo sauce and pesto. We’re going to ignore that homemade alfredo and pesto are significantly better. Our purpose here is to slide a couple more super-simple dinners into the family belt and—like I said—honor that voluptuous jar of Sockarooni. (If you can’t tell by that last reference, I am a big fan of Newman’s Own brand. They carry them all over the place, they are affordable, they are all natural (sometimes even organic), and all proceeds go to charities. Plus they taste best. I also recommend whole grain pasta, or–at most conventional stores–Barilla Plus.)

Now with just three jars and handful of other ingredients, you can have three weeknight suppers on the table with admirable ease and minimal pain. (I am not going to include a recipe for American Bolognese. I fear that might waste my time and insult you.)


  1. Get your salted water boiling on the stovetop. When it comes to a boil, follow package directions for 12 ounces of pasta. Rotini, farfale or gometti would be great, but you can use what you like. With 30 seconds of cooking time left, stir in 2 cups frozen peas.
  2. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 450F. Divide 1 pound salmon into 4 pieces and place on the sheet, skin side down. Season with salt or seasoned salt, pepper or lemon pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes and check for doneness. It should flake easy but you don’t want to overcook it.
  3. When pasta is done, drain it and toss immediately with most of a full jar of pesto and ½-1 cup cream or half-and-half.
  4. With the last tablespoon or 2 of pesto in the jar, stir in enough olive oil to make it flow easily. When salmon is done, drizzle with pesto oil.
  5. Serve everything hot with parmesan cheese.


  1. Get your salted water boiling on the stovetop. Then follow package directions for 12 ounces orzo.
  2. Heat a little oil in a nice, oven-proof skillet. Saute 1 chopped onion until it begins to go translucent. Add 1 pound ground beef, bison, or lamb and cook, chopping, until browned.
  3. Add 8 ounces tomato sauce, ¼ cup catsup, and an optional diced, peeled eggplant. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 or so minutes. (Check eggplants for doneness.)
  4. Preheat your broiler.
  5. Meanwhile, mix 10 ounces Alfredo sauce with ¼ teaspoon nutmeg and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
  6. When meat is done, drizzle the alfredo evenly over the top. Sprinkle evenly with ¼ cup parmesan. Broil until browning and bubbly, just a few minutes.
  7. Serve meaty mess over the orzo. Seriously addictive.

One thought on “Ode to Jarred Sauces

  1. Mmm…those both sound delish. Pasta night is one of the favorite nights here. I’m considering the idea of making a bunch of pasta meals in bulk so I can freeze them and just cook them up when I want some.

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