|Forgive the poor photography.|
I don't cook much, but there are a few things I can do really well. Breakfast is one of them. Faking homemade spaghetti sauce is another.
You need as many of the following items as you can round up:
- Sweet Italian sausage
- Jarred spaghetti sauce of your choice (I am partial to vodka sauces)
- Red wine (Chianti, Syrah, whatever's around and reasonably full-bodied)
- Veggies: tomatoes, mushrooms, tri-color bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, broccoli (frozen versions work fine if you don't have fresh handy)
- Olive oil
- Oregano, basil, mediterranean spice blends, salt and pepper, ground red pepper
- Minced garlic (I am lazy and use the jarred version)
- Pasta of choice (whole wheat versions are healthier!)
- Romano cheese, for garnish
Once you can't see any raw sausage just by looking (20 minutes or so), pour in the jarred sauce. Add a few glugs of the wine (pro-tip: if you've cooked with it, a glass of it automatically goes well with the meal). Pour yourself a glass to have while you cook and feel more Italian already.
Now's a good time to put the water to boil for the pasta.
The worst part of jarred sauce is the acidity. The sugar combats this. Pour some in your hand - a tablespoon or two - and then add it to the sauce. Taste (you're using a wooden spoon just like grandma's, right?). If it's still acidic, add more.
Throw in large amounts of your chosen spices. Rub them together in your hands before you add them to make the flavor stronger. I like to add the pepper (red and black) so it's a bit kicky. I add garlic to taste, too - store sauce is never garlicky enough.
Let it simmer covered for 20-30 minutes. Add more wine or water if it starts getting too thick. Throw in your veggies now or later, depending on how crispy you want them, and put the pasta in the boiling water about ten minutes out from the sauce being done (you can always let the pot boil awhile with nothing but water in it if you didn't get the timing right).
Once the pasta's cooked, check the sausage for doneness. I always serve the pasta and the sauce separately so that people can choose how much sauce they want (put a bit of olive oil on the pasta to keep it from sticking). Garnish with finely grated Romano cheese - it's way more flavorful than that hackneyed Parmesan.
Greens with a few dashes of olive oil and balsamic vinegar go well.
If you've done it right, no one will believe you started with a jar.