5 Ways to Turn a Jar of Marinara into Dinner

white beans and marinara
Photo Credit: Budget Bytes

March 29, 2021

By Sheela Prakash

If you’ve only been using that jar of marinara in your pantry as a topper for pasta, get ready: This kitchen workhorse can do so much more.

The key is to be sure it’s the most flavorful, healthiest sauce you can get. Primal Kitchen is our go-to; this line of marinaras has no added sugar, it’s made with antioxidant-rich avocado oil, it’s Whole30 approved, and it comes in delicious flavors (we especially love the Tomato Basil and the Roasted Garlic).

Here are some of our favorite simple ways to transform a jar of sauce into a nourishing dinner.

1. Turn it into soup.

Why not? Saute some finely chopped carrots, celery, and onion in a pot with olive oil. Add some jarred marinara and thin to soup consistency with a few glugs of chicken or vegetable broth. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, and dinner’s ready. Make it heartier by stirring in some cooked beans and/or pasta, or shredded cooked chicken. Alternatively, make some grilled cheese sandwiches while the soup is simmering.

2. Use it as a simmering sauce.

If the chicken or fish dishes in your rotation need a refresh, marinara to the rescue. Pour the sauce into a large skillet with high sides and bring to a gentle simmer. Nestle in chicken breasts or thighs, or fish such as cod or halibut, and simmer, spooning sauce over the protein a few times, until the protein is cooked through. Add some chopped olives or artichoke hearts, if you have them on hand, and top with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan or chopped parsley. Serve over rice or zoodles.

3. Give eggs a makeover.

Who doesn’t love eggs for dinner? Take a break from scrambled and fried and try “eggs in purgatory.” Pour a jar of marinara into a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Make a few wells in the sauce (as many as the number of eggs you’ll cook) and crack eggs into the wells. Cover and simmer until the eggs are just cooked, then serve with bread.

4. Braise cauliflower in it.

You’ve made cauliflower into rice, and “cream” sauce, and pizza crust–now enjoy it as a main course in hearty braised cauliflower puttanesca. With anchovies, olives and capers, plus a pinch of red pepper flakes for a hint of heat, this vegetarian entree has so much flavor, you won’t miss the meat.

5. Combine it with another pantry staple.

Sometimes you can mix the simplest things and end up with something awesome. Grab 2 of those cans of white beans or chickpeas you always have around; drain them and spread in a baking dish. Pour in marinara and stir. Sprinkle with whatever cheese you have in the fridge—shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, crumbled goat cheese, or a combo—and bake at 450°F until it’s bubbling and the cheese has melted, about 10 minutes. You can even turn the broiler on at the end to brown the top a little, if you like. Serve it right from the baking dish with crusty bread.

Get a recipe: White Beans with Mushrooms and Marinara from Budget Bytes