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Wednesday, March 17, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

How to jazz up that prepared pasta sauce

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There are so many prepared sauces available to us as well as-easy-to-make recipes, it's simple to throw together a meal that's easy on the palate as well as the clock.

Allow ½ cup sauce for every 2 ounces uncooked pasta. Homemade or bottled sauces can be left alone, or dressed up with a few additions.

The following ingredients can be added to a 26-ounce bottle of tomato-based sauce, or a 16-ounce bottle of béchamel-based sauce.

Marinara: 2 links cooked, sliced Italian sausage; or 1 cup leftover cooked and shredded chicken or pork; ¾ cup tiny dice of mozzarella.

Tomato-meat sauce: ¼ cup frozen peas and 2 strips cooked, crumbled bacon; or ¼ pound sliced, sautéed mushrooms.

Arrabiata or any spicy tomato-based sauce: a couple of slivered fresh basil leaves or some coarsely chopped Italian parsley.

• Tomato-olive sauce: 2 to 4 tablespoons drained capers; ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes; 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

Tomato-basil sauce: ½ cup tiny cubes of mozzarella; 6-½-ounce jar drained and chopped marinated artichoke hearts; ¼ cup olive tapenade. Or add a small can or pouch drained water-packed tuna and ½ cup drained canned white beans.

Tomato-mushroom sauce: 2 tablespoons cream or 1 tablespoon butter; 1 cup cooked shredded pork, chicken or turkey.

Alfredo or four-cheese sauce: ¼ pound small, cooked shrimp or crab or 1 cup cooked shredded chicken or turkey; ¼ cup slivered basil and ¼ cup chopped walnuts; ½ cup chopped, cooked broccoli florets.


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