Good kosher pasta sauce is not hard to find, but which one should someone choose once they find it. I know many folks reading this will claim just like in my kosher salsa post, that any idiot can make their own pasta sauce with a few simple ingredients and a knife. Well for those of you who don’t know, when I am not blogging I am hitting the slopes, taking pictures of abandoned railroad stuff and riding my mountain bike oh and I work- with all that one hardly has the willpower or time to sit around waiting for that homemade sauce to boil so they can add it to some ready made noodles. Hey why don’t you make your own noodles, sauce man?
What is considered good is up for debate and I am sure many of you will comment with your own local generic brands of sauce. I live in Albany, so unfortunately the closest Trader Joes is 130 miles away. I know they have great stuff, but I guess Wal Mart and Price Chopper will have to suffice. I also am very picky when it comes to sauce, most of what I eat is pasta. In fact recently during my stint as an unemployed person I discovered that there is more to life than angel hair. Having loads of time on my hands I learned the differences between linguine and fettuccini, I like linguine better, and I also discovered penne and fiori- which Barilla makes and no one else. Oh the joy that comes with diversity, it used to be angel hair 3 nights a week and all of the sudden I had choice. I felt like the folks who move to Europe and discover the Parliamentary system. But with choice comes problems, the thickness of the noodle messes with sauce choice and sauce choice goes from casual dumping to all out strategy. Which sauce will cling to penne the best? How about the thick strands of fettuccini, will the silky smooth sauces satisfy my palate which has grown accustomed to a rather chunky sauce? All these thoughts enter my mind when I stand for ages in every sauce aisle gently turning the bottles trying not to make a racket as I check for the obscure hecshers and trying to decipher whether the weird Italian ones have any sign of trustworthiness. I have compiled a list of the few sauces that are on my current sauce circulation list:
Barilla: I don’t know what happened but the unique tasting Black and Green Olive sauce from Barilla is no more. I used to get it at Wal Mart for the unbelievable low price of $1.98 half of what most good sauces cost. It had a great combination of chunky tomatoes, capers, and black and green olives. It works best with long thin noodles, though any will do. The best part about this sauce, is the color, greens and reds combining for a Christmas-like medley of sauce that fills your taste buds with screams for more. It also goes great with bread.
Also from Barilla I have just gotten into their Roasted Red and Green Peppers It may be the fact its so cheap, but this super thick sauce has this very sweet meaty taste, though I assure you its OU-parve. It is a rather pasty sauce, smooth in fact, no chunks revealed- yet it has this thickness that works exceptionally well with penne, elbows or spiral noodles.
Seeds of Change: (no longer under hashgacha) I don’t know why they took it off, but for the first time in my life I was able to witness a product that took their hashgacha off and the price doubled. Yes indeed while it was kosher it ranged in price from a low $3.29 to a high of $5.99 at non other than Whole Foods. Now it costs over $6.00 a jar everywhere. I never needed other sauces when I had my trusty Seeds of Change Roasted Garlic and Onion sauce. Chunks of white garlic were the focal point of this beautifully crafted organic sauce lovers madness. Indeed it also had that thick viscosity without the presence of such large chunks, maybe a speck of tomato here and there, but mostly just a great hearty tasting extremely versatile condiment. Worked well everything as did their other once-kosher sauces.
Emerils: You may have noticed that half of Emirils sauces have an Chof-K and the other half have the Half-Moon-K which many folks including myself avoid. Fortunately for the Jews his two best sauces have the Chof-K proudly resonating off the front label by a grand picture of TV’s greatest chef personality. Emerils Vodka sauce is a creamy sauce lovers fantasy, when at peers at you from the jar, while standing on its shelf next to all the other look-alikes it calls out to the shopper- “come try me, look at my different shade of color” and indeed it is different from all other sauces. If there was a pasta sauce Ma-Nishtana- Emerils Vodka sauce could be like the Pesach of sauce. Why is this sauce different from all others, the youngest child will ask? Because its lighter color and creamy thickness spreads delight over the rowdiest pasta clinging to the toughest strand of angel hair or thickest most resilient piece of penne. It pours out of the jar quickly so watch your step, and unlie other sauces this sauce need not be applied over and over, it sticks well and provides the pasta eater with a general bout of satisfaction that even the loneliest hidden noodle will reap the benefits of this super sauce. It is the closest thing you will get to fettuccini alfredo in terms of kosher do it yourself.
Emeril has recently introduced a new sauce called Sicilian Gravy It features fried eggplant-implanted deep within the murky depths of the jar, and cannot be seen, but it can be tasted and it is just delightful. This sauce would be classified in my book as a thin sauce and therefore it brings problems concerning its ability to spread sauce evenly amongst the noodles. It should be thicker but isn’t, it works well for small amounts of noodles, but once the anti is upped the Emerils Sicilian Gravy does not quite deliver. I may be just comparing unfairly to its older sibling Mr. Vodka, but even compared to other “thicker” sauces- it has the taste- but its abilities are diminished in the field of sauce competitiveness’. If Emeril is reading this maybe he will think about leaving those fried eggplant pieces intact rather than puréeing them into the general mix.
De Cecco: This brand caught my eye from the bottom of the shelf at my local grocery store. It was a weird name so I checked for the hechsher not expecting one. Sure enough al of their sauces had hechsherim under the OU. I was overjoyed especially since they had an Olive and Caper sauce. Finally I would be able to stop wishing for Barilla to bring back this sauce. Would it match up to Barillas though? I do have this rule about pasta sauce and cost- it really makes no difference- many other foods do, but pasta sauce has so many factors. You can use vine ripened tomatoes all you want- it wont mean your sauce will come out good. This olive and caper sauce didn’t disappoint, it did however fail to add up in flavor and chunk compared to Barilla- of course Barilla’s Olive sauce is no more- but I still had to compare. Yes it was chunky and yes there was a good amount of thinly sliced olives, but for some reason its thickness didn’t resolute to taste, but rather it tasted kind of watery. Sauce could be anything but watery, watery is bad, real bad, might as well just have ketchup eh. While the sauce smells good and tastes alright it “should” by all means taste better. I am only on my first jar of it, so as time goes by and I develop a liking for it I will keep you updated.
Flora: I don’t buy this sauce out of economic reasons it just costs too damned much. It runs somewhere in the $6.99 a jar price range, I guess my cheapness can get the best of me sometimes. Well back when I lived in Rochester my roommate a sauce maniac- due to hectic schedules some people need one or two main meal items with 20 different sauces- this guy was that. He also didn’t pay attention to price- yeh those working people with stable jobs can afford $7 spaghetti sauce. Flora regular old marinara or chunky tomato- kind of forgot the kind, was the ultimate in sauce. It packed a full punch of garlic and tons of tomato chunks that made you feel as if some large Italian lady had just roasted the tomatoes and made the sauce right on the spot. Well the logo has some Italian lady so I guess its close. This sauce is thick and chunky, it also can be eaten raw without anything but a spoon from the jar- kind of like the peanut butter addicts who sit with a jar of skippy and go to town. This sauce is the premium sauce and wins my award for best sauce- though I never have bought a jar.
Price Chopper Marketplace: The premium branding of this chain grocery store located in upstate New York as well as other east coast locals contains some very good moderately priced sauces. I especially like their Garlic pasta sauce, its rather fluid viscosity makes it a great choice for many pastas, especially fettuccini, it sticks well to both sides of noodles especially ones with large surface areas, making every bite equally tasty. The garlic is not so noticeable at first, which is a problem, it doesn’t have the same specks and chunks as Seeds of Change had- but nevertheless its $2.50 price tag is hard to come by and its garlic though not visible does pack a punch when slurped up with the noodles.