I have always made my own pasta sauces. Always. It’s a point of pride as well as taste. I just have never found a prepared sauce that tasted anywhere close to as good as what I could come up with from tomatoes, garlic, onions and other spices simmering in my own kitchen.
I tell you this so you understand what a big deal it is for me to admit this: Napa Valley Bistro Pasta Sauces are so good, I haven’t made my own sauces in months.
These sauces, from the Mezzetta food company that is known for its jarred peppers and olives, really taste as good as homemade.
I was dubious when I tried the first jar. I’ve usually found jarred sauces too sweet, too gloppy or somehow, just off-tasting. So I started simple, with the fire-roasted marinara. Hmmm. Smoky, lots of deep flavor from roasted onions and tomatoes. Maybe it was a fluke, I thought.
So, just to be sure, of course, I tried more. Puttanesca, the traditional sauce of Southern Italy, with capers, anchovies, and Kalamata olives. Porcini mushroom, which also turned out to have portabellas for a really rich, earthy texture and flavor. Arrabiata, with hot peppers. And then the one that’s become my family’s go-to sauce, vodka marinara, a lighter but delicious version of the sauce that’s usually so heavy with cream and parmesan.
I should not have been so surprised. I have used Mezzetta’s other products for years, things like capers, artichoke hearts, and olive-oil-packed sundried tomatoes. The family-owned company, based in Napa Valley, California, has been making these and other Mediterranean-influenced foods since 1935.
They introduced this signature pasta sauce line a couple years back, and claim to use lots of local California ingredients – fresh local herbs, plum tomatoes when in season, and, perhaps most importantly, Napa Valley wines from local California wineries. (No wonder I liked this!)
I still like to make my own sauce, when I have the time and the inclination. But on other nights, I can pass this off as my own and not feel embarrassed in the least.