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Gettin’ Saucy – 10 Things To Do With Tomato Sauce

Hopefully you have attempted to make my simple tomato sauce recipe, maybe even a few times.  You have learned whether you need to add more salt or garlic for your taste, and how to know when the onions have cooked long enough.  I also assume you put it over pasta.  Good choice!

You probably had some sauce leftover and if you took my advice, you put it in the freezer.  So now what?  Well, of course you can take it out and heat it up again and put it over more pasta.  But let’s get a little creative and use it as a foundation for making a whole bunch of other great dishes.  Here are 10 more simple things to do with that sauce.

First, a few tips on cooking pasta.  Keep a variety of different shapes in your pantry.  Cook in boiling water that has been well salted (a tablespoon for every 2 quarts of water) and cook for a minute less than stated on the box.  Pasta continues to cook even after you have drained it, plus in most dishes you will be heating it through again with the sauce so it will cook further.  Besides, no one likes their pasta mushy.  For simplicity, after cooking pasta, drain it and then cook or heat up your sauce in the same pan.  Then return pasta to the pot, toss with sauce, and heat through.  With a few exceptions, this makes everything below a one pot meal.

Spice it Up

After pasta is drained, put sauce in the now empty pasta pot, heat it up, put in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes for every two servings of pasta you made.  Put the pasta in and toss to coat.

Get Some Herb

Heat up some sauce, and add any number of the following;  Oregano, Thyme, or Marjoram.  Again, start with a teaspoon per two servings of sauce/pasta and adjust to your taste.  Alternatively, toss in a handful of fresh basil leaves torn into pieces.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Buy some roasted red peppers (you will need at least a pint) or roast them yourself by following this tutorial.

Then in a blender, blend two parts peppers to one part sauce (for example, that’s two cups of peppers to one cup of sauce for the mathematically challenged).  You will probably need to add more salt here too.


A classic Italian dish with black olives, capers (they are little berries), and anchovies.  All you have to do is dice  up some black olives (I like mixing different varieties you get at the store and never used canned ones), dice up some anchovies (or leave them out if you don’t like them) and add some capers.  No need for measurements here.  Just do it so it looks like you have added enough of each.  Heat this all with sauce for a few minutes over medium heat and toss with pasta.


Take any piece of white fish (halibut, cod, sea bass) and put it in a glass baking dish.  Put some sauce over the fish and bake until fish is done (when a knife inserted in the center for 5 seconds feels warm when touched to your upper lip).  Better yet, take the above Puttanesca (or any of the above sauces actually) and use those instead of just plain sauce.

Peas, Mushrooms, Prosciutto

Dice a few slices of prosciutto (pancetta or bacon will work too) and cook in a pan.  Remove from pan when done with a slotted spoon.  Slice mushrooms and cook in remaining fat over medium high heat with a good pinch of salt.  Add tomato sauce, peas and previously cooked bacon.  Heat through and toss with pasta.


Take two Italian sausages (preferably from a butcher, none of that supermarket crap) and slice open the casing.  Cook in a pan as you would ground beef (like for tacos), breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Stir in tomato sauce and serve over pasta.

Vodka Sauce

So there really is no need to add vodka here.  Vodka is colorless, tasteless, and odorless.  The only thing you smell or taste is alcohol which burns off during cooking anyway.  Vodka sauce is really just red sauce and cream.  Heat some sauce up and add enough cream to get a light pink color.  Add more or less depending on taste.  Once heated through toss with pasta.  Bonus Recipe: You can also take the Peas Mushroom and Prosciutto recipe or the sausage recipe above and add cream to those too.

Quick Baked Ziti

After cooking, return pasta to the pot and toss with ricotta cheese (enough to coat the pasta) and tomato sauce (not too much, just until pasta is pink), then add some mozzarella that’s been cut into small cubes and stir over heat just until mozzarella begins to melt.  Spoon into a dish and top with more tomato sauce.


Just like pasta, rice is a carbohydrate that does well with sauce.  Put some tomato sauce and a few grinds of black pepper on top of white rice as a snack or a side dish (goes well with chicken).

There you have it.  Simple quick meals.  Most can be made with what you have on hand or with minimal extra ingredients.  So make a few more batches of sauce and you will have enough dishes here to try something new each week for the next few months.  You can thank me later.

I’m always on the lookout for new recipes.  If you have other ideas or things you like to add to pasta, post them in the comments section below.

About the author

Rich is the resident food & drink expert. He's been cooking since age ten, and has probably eaten and drank at most every restaurant or bar in New York City.

All articles by Rich »

5 responses to “Gettin’ Saucy – 10 Things To Do With Tomato Sauce”

  1. Gaurav says:

    When I make a lot of extra sauce I freeze the leftover in ice trays, once frozen put the cubes in a freezer bag, makes it really easy to heat just the right amount later.

  2. STT says:

    Saucy Breakfast: ladle sauce into a frying pan. Add hot pepper flakes to taste. Bring to an enthusiastic simmer. Crack eggs in sauce and essentially, poach them in it. Serve with crunchy toasted Italian bread brushed with olive oil and a sprinlking of basil. Yum

  3. Jess P. says:

    I did peas, mushrooms, and proscuitto today. I am not SUPER basic with cooking but at the tender age of 20 I need to learn some more creative things to do. It was so omnomnom that I can't wait to eat my leftovers tomorrow.

  4. eric says:

    I cannot believe that converting it to a pizza sauce has not been recommended! Add a bunch of oregano, and Voila! And you can either buy cheap pre-made crusts, or invite a lady over, and have fun making your own dough. The ingredients are cheap, and its so simple that you should be ashamed if you haven’t at least tried it. A fun dinner date is when you and your female prospect both make your own pizzas, and have a little competition to see whose is better. The prize for such a competition? I’ll leave that up to you to decide…

  5. kjonyou says:

    I beg to differ on the Vodka Sauce. Yes vodka in America (but not Europe) is supposed to be tasteless, colorless and so forth, but it's there for a reason. There are specific flavor compounds that get released in tomatoes only when cooked with alcohol. That is why most good Italian red sauces have a little wine in them. Its not just just a flavor add in.

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