When making Italian style tomato sauce from a can you usually only have the simplest of foundations. Usually tomato paste and water comprise the bulk of it and it's up to you to flesh it out and make it robust and flavorful. At the same time you can develop your own style and make a sauce that is unique. With a careful choice of herbs and spices you can make a sauce that everyone will love.
Adding garlic to your sauce is almost always an improvement. It adds a spicy flavor without being a "hot" sensation like peppers. In addition to tasting good, garlic is high in antioxidants, making it a healthy addition as well. Fresh garlic can be diced or mashed, or you can use garlic powder or garlic salt.
Cayenne pepper is a powerful spice to add to your sauces. It has a strong spicy flavor that will give your dish an extra zip. Cayenne is used in many fares to enhance flavor, but it is also remarkably healthy. According to Dr. Edward Group of the Global Healing Center, cayenne can help fight cancers, heart disease and even migraine headaches.
Oregano is a pungent herb that is most often associated with Italian food. Oregano is stronger when dried than fresh, so it will usually be used in a crushed or ground style. It is most associated with dishes from Sicily and southern Italy but is a good addition to any sauce that you want to have a distinctly "Italian" feel to it.
Basil is another herb commonly associated with Italian cooking; it is actually more common in the cuisine than oregano. Basil comes in many different varieties, but sweet basil and bush basil are the most common ones. Basil is better served fresh than dried. Basil makes a flavorful addition to pizza and marinara sauces alike.
Parsley is used in Italian cooking because of its strong flavor. Flat-leaved parsley or "continental parsley" is preferred for cooking rather than "curly" parsley, which is used for garnishes. Also, according to Dr. Denice Moffat on NaturalHealthTechniques.com, parsley benefits joint, blood and digestive health.
Salt and Pepper
Even simple salt and pepper can enhance your sauce. To use pepper authentically you should get whole peppercorns and a grinder and grind pepper right into your sauce for utmost freshness. Coarse sea salt is used in authentic Italian cooking rather than simple table salt. That said, table salt and pepper can be used to enhance your sauce just as easily as any other spice; just remember, canned sauces usually have salt already in them. Make sure you taste it before adding any more.
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