Monday, October 27, 2008

Pasta Sauce...Not Just For Pasta Anymore

(NAPSI)-When you are pressed for time in the kitchen, few things are simpler or more satisfying than a jar of specialty pasta sauce served over your favorite steaming-hot pasta.

One brand even adds wine, an Italian culinary tradition, which adds flavor and richness.

Jarred pasta sauce can be one of the most versatile staples of a well-stocked kitchen, used in a wide variety of ways to make the job of the home chef a little easier and the results a lot more rewarding.

Here are some tips:

• Always keep jars of high-quality pasta sauce in the cupboard. With freshly chopped onion and carrots, a few fresh herbs and a protein such as chicken or beef, you can have a hearty homemade chicken cacciatore or savory Italian beef braise on your table fast.

• Combine jarred pasta sauce with water or broth. Add a drained can of Tuscan white beans, your choice of fresh, seasonal vegetables and a handful of uncooked pasta, heat gently and serve with fresh grated Parmesan. You've just created delicious, meatless minestrone.

• For best results, check the label. Look for fresh and natural ingredients and no preservatives.

• For a quick Bolognese, add one pound of ground beef, veal, turkey, pork or chicken, sautéed in a bit of extra-virgin olive oil until cooked, to one jar of pasta sauce. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes and serve with the pasta of your choice and crusty garlic bread.

• The best tomatoes for sauce are Italian plum tomatoes. Simple and elegant Napa Valley Bistro Marinara Sauces are made with tomatoes imported from the San Marzano region of Italy. Napa Valley Bistro robust, full-flavored, classic sauces are made with vine-ripened plum tomatoes from California. The sun-ripened tomatoes contain plenty of the anti-oxidant lycopene and vitamin C.

• These sauces are complete recipes ready to enjoy right out of the jar. But when you're feeling adventurous and have a little more time to spare, they make an excellent base for all your culinary creations, adding a layer of richness and flavor that plain canned tomatoes can't deliver.

Made with heart-healthy extra-virgin olive oil, Napa Valley Bistro Sauces are the only sauces with Napa Valley wine added.

You may care to try them in recipes like this:

Easy Napa Valley Bistro Braised-Beef Short Ribs

(Serves 6-8)

4 lbs. beef short ribs

1/4 c. Mezzetta Extra-Virgin Italian Olive Oil

1 jar Napa Valley Bistro Porcini & Portabella Mushroom sauce

1 t. Mezzetta Crushed Garlic

2 c. beef broth

1/2 c. red wine

1 bay leaf

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped

1/2 cup celery

1/2 cup carrots

Minced fresh parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, season the short ribs with salt and pepper and brown all sides. Place the short ribs into a deep baking dish and cover with all of the remaining ingredients. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for 3-4 hours, until the meat is tender and falling off of the bone. Skim fat off top or refrigerate, covered, overnight, and remove fat before gently reheating and serving.

To serve, place the meat on a platter, whisk the sauce and spoon on top. Garnish with minced fresh parsley and serve with rice, potatoes, pasta or polenta.

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