I make A LOT of pasta. I’m not sure how other people make their sauces, but I usually just get the $3 jars from the grocery store. Although the pasta sauce should be good on its own, I’ve found ways to elevate it so it tastes a bit less store-bought.
First cold press olive oil. This olive oil has a more olive taste to it and I can’t describe it well, but it tastes a lot better than regular olive oil. It is a bit more pricey, but totally worth it.
Fresh garlic. The pre-minced garlic in a jar just doesn’t cut it, I found. Take the time to peel and crush your garlic, and it will make such a difference in smell and taste.
Shallots. Onions are amazing, but shallots are on a different level. They’re mild and sweet and not as pungent as onions. They’re a pain in the ass to peel, but so worth it.
Fresh herbs. Dried herbs are good too, but fresh ones are just so much better. When you can, use fresh, and then keep dry herbs for emergencies.
Fresh parmesan. I used to get the “parmesan” in a green plastic container, and it does taste good, but apparently, it’s not even cheese. Get a slice of parmesan and grate it on your pasta right before eating, and you’ll taste the difference. I mean, I still keep my fake parmesan in the fridge just in case.
Pasta water. After cooking your pasta, add a couple tablespoons of the pasta water into your sauce. There’s some starch in it which will help thicken your sauce and add depth.
Emulsify. After adding your pasta into the sauce, take some tongs and make some whisking movements in the pan to incorporate air into the sauce and make the sauce silkier and less flat.
You don’t need to always buy the most expensive, most luxurious, most boujee ingredients to make good food. Work with what you have and know where to spend a bit more dollars on things that actually make a difference.