Kitchen Skills 101: Learn to Cook with a Jar of Pasta Sauce
Learning to cook can be an adventure. If you start simple, with a jar of pasta sauce, these recipes make it easy to start your journey. Sponsored by Prego®.
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Sponsored by Prego®.
It can feel intimidating to start learning to cook, especially when everyone’s Insta seems like it’s full of sourdough trophies and gourmet humblebrags. But it’s actually smart to start with the simpler stuff, especially if you include an ingredient you already like — we’re looking at you, Pasta Sauce from a Jar! Once you pop that lid, you’re already well on your way.
As you boldly tackle this new challenge, each dish you get to the table will taste even better because you made it yourself. Eventually, you’ll notice each meal is building not only your confidence, but also your arsenal of cooking techniques. And as you move from one recipe to the next, you’ll notice the process gets a little easier, sometimes you finish the prep a little quicker, and your food might even get tastier.
The best part of this journey? You don’t have to do it alone! Learning any new skill is more manageable (and a lot more fun) when you’ve got a clear path to follow and a good set of instructions to guide you along. Not all recipes are created equal! The following set of recipes have been carefully chosen because they’re accessible for beginners, mouthwatering, and will help you build skills to get more comfortable — and maybe even have fun? — in the kitchen. And because each dish calls for everyone’s favorite, the classic jarred red sauce, your chances of enjoying your creations are excellent! So cozy up to these classics and get cooking; each recipe below has a helpful technique, tip, or process for newer cooks to practice. Let us know how it goes! Mangia!
Poaching is a simple, gentle way to cook — and it’s hard to mess up! While many people think it has to be done in a thin liquid like water, broth, or wine (or some combination thereof), the truth is almost any liquid can be used. The thing that matters most is maintaining a low enough temperature that tiny bubbles continue to rise to the surface at a mellow rate; poaching is a marathon, not a sprint (though it’s still pretty quick). The brilliance of this low-stress five-ingredient dish is that poaching chicken in the marinara guarantees tender breasts that are also packed with flavor — plus you’ve already got a sauce built in! Served with a little rice, pasta, couscous, or quinoa, it’s a full meal, fast.
Lasagna is marvelously cozy and comforting. It can seem intimidating, but once you realize that the only cooking techniques here are sautéing some meat and then layering ingredients into a casserole dish, you can make this impressive dinner without breaking a sweat. This is a staple everyone should be able to make. This recipe makes a generous amount, and the leftovers freeze well … You’re about to become one of those smarties who cooks once and eats twice.
Everyone is digging into meatless meals these days, but it’s also nice to have wiggle room to customize a recipe to your liking. And sometimes you have a plan, but then realize you’re missing an ingredient! Learning how to be flexible in the kitchen and add ingredients like extra veggies, or figure out a last-minute substitution, is a great skill to develop. This recipe is a delicious way to practice: It has fewer than 10 ingredients and is tasty whether you’re having a steak or veggie night. And the sauce? It really ties the dish together.
Homemade meatballs may seem like a lot of work, but the ingredients in this recipe have done most of the work for you already — thanks to a few healthy shortcuts. Lean ground turkey replaces pork or beef, and the Prego + Hidden Super Veggies Traditional Italian Sauce that’s mixed into the meat has extra veggies blended in (and ensures the lean meatballs stay juicy). The sheet-pan method — pop them all into the oven at once and set a timer, no spattering on the stove or trying to figure out if they’re done — keeps it simple for any beginner cook.
Homemade personal pizzas? Yes, you can. Put down that icy box in the freezer aisle and step into the warm, delicious light of fresh-tasting mini pies you made yourself. With only eight ingredients (and that’s including salt), it’s a snap to put these together. And there’s no need to wait for dough to rise; the crust is the easiest part when you start with store-bought naan. No rolling, no rising, no tossing … just lovely pizza.
Step away from the stovetop! You can bake a satisfying breakfast in about ten minutes, free from the stress of frying eggs while worrying they’ll overcook just as you glance at your phone. These cute cheesy cups cook perfectly every time because they’re gently baked in the oven. Plus, the tomato sauce kick gives this hearty breakfast dish robust flavor with very little work.
Everyone knows eating more veggies makes you healthier, but figuring out how to do it in a way that’s still delicious isn’t always so clear. Yet there are simple ways to swap in more vegetables, and that’s where these pizza bites fit: Enjoy the flavors of pizza, but with a zucchini base! And you decide: Is it a snack, or a veggie-forward lunch? There are no wrong answers. Plus, this is a great way to start using the broiler; keep a close eye on them and in a few minutes — success!