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Sauce

This healthy lunch recipe from @grainofsofia_rd is crisp and refreshing on a hot day. These vegan spring rolls pack a nutritious punch with cucumber, bell pepper, red cabbage, cilantro, mint, avocado, and tofu. The homemade peanut sauce is a must.

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This is a funny entry from Trader Joe's, a.k.a. the place we go to for frozen food and tiny cups of free coffee. This marinara wins a couple of points because of value — a jar, while small (18 oz., instead of the typical 24 or 25), costs only $1.39. And the taste is not bad, if a little herb-heavy. What's interesting is that while many jarred marinaras commit the sin of being too sweet, this one is nearly too salty.

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Very good packaging on this — the label has a classy, Art Deco-ish feel. I'm not sure what involvement, if any, John Muir's family had in the development of this company, which started in 1991 and was acquired by General Mills in 2000, but the name holds weight, especially in California. I imagine John Muir walking among the sequoias, opening a jar of marinara, sticking a finger in and tasting it. He then strokes his beard and nods sagely.

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This feels like a lost opportunity. Here we have a good sauce that's bright and flavorful, with nice, loose texture and good elegant variation between smooth and chunky. It's just too darned sweet.

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Surprise! This wasn't nearly as bad as I had remembered — the blessings of low expectations. I anticipated Ragu being too sweet and tasting strongly of tomato paste rather than actual tomatoes. It's still both of those things, just not to the degree I thought.

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It takes a cool hand to be one of history's biggest movie stars and have your own food business. But Paul Newman wasn't just interested in the color of money. There's an absence of malice in his wading into pizza, dressings and sauces, and the funds raised for charity prove he's no hustler.

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This sauce is a little too sweet and has a long, citric finish, like orange juice that's been out a day too long. It hits even sweeter when eaten with pasta. The packaging, with a cute hourglass-shaped bottle, is attractive, however.

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Barilla is a huge player in U.S. pasta consumption as well as in Europe, where it's carved out nearly 17% of the market — more than twice any other single brand. It stands to reason that it would make sauce, as well.

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Calling a product "You're welcome" — the approximate translation of the Italian word "Prego" — is an extreme act of confidence in whatever it is you're selling.

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Mezzetta, a California-based company that coined the slogan "Don't Forgetta Mezzetta," makes an excellent sauce, in addition to jarred olives and preserved veggies. This one has a bright, strong tomato flavor and is quite onion-forward (I like that but not everyone will). It has a smooth texture and slightly smoky flavor, and it avoids one of the most common pitfalls that afflict jarred marinaras — not being oily enough. This has plenty of that good olive oil flavor.

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Victoria ticks off the biggest and most important checkbox when judging marinara: Does it taste more or less how a simple homemade sauce tastes? This does, and then some. Victoria tastes of tomatoes and olive oil; it's not too sweet and has a fantastic texture — superior to that of Rao's, which I'd say is ever so slightly too thick.

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Here's the big surprise of the top tier. Fody specializes in low FODMAP (which stands for "fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols" — there will be a quiz later) food items. Without getting too far into it, a low FODMAP diet can help people with IBS.

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DeLallo makes a very nice sauce — more unctuous than average and with a pronounced olive flavor that's quite noticeable. That's balanced out by the slightly sweet tomato flavor. This strikes me as a good sauce to doctor up with some meat or sausage.

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If we were judging based on appearance alone, this entry would win. It has a distinctive, wide-shouldered jar and simple gold cap. The label is small and understated, with "Michael's of Brooklyn" written in cursive. The minimal real estate devoted to the label allows shoppers to see the full glory of bright, intensely red sauce.

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Genuine Northern California tomatoes go into this sauce created by Chris Bianco and Rob DiNapoli. Given Bianco's pedigree (and the attractive label art), I expected greatness.

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It's the Costco house brand. And while they may sell only the finest in jeans, dress shirts (one lasted me almost 15 years, true story!) and 72-pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano, the marinara doesn't quite live up to that majesty.

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I don't love strong herbiness in my marinara, but if you do, this is a good option. Lots of onions and the herbs are noticeable but don't overpower. This sauce isn't too sweet and there's a nice, almost smoky, cooked-down tomato flavor.

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I'm a little conflicted with this one. I like the flavor, which is tomato-rich and has a surprising, subtle cayenne kick, but the texture is pretty out there. I like a loose sauce. Coppola, who directed the "Godfather" movies as well as the one where a 10-year-old boy has aged to look like Robin Williams, has a sauce that veers into Slush Puppie territory.

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There's a good texture to this Yo Mama's sauce that's juicy and not pasty. The basil flavor is not too grassy, but it's detectable. There's a slightly sour aftertaste but it doesn't overpower. If you want a basil sauce, this could be a good option.

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A good sauce, but a little sweet. What made this stand out, though, is the preponderance of tomato seeds and skins in the mix (due, I imagine, to the inclusion of cherry tomatoes).

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Not a bad sauce, and a nice texture, but Lucini tastes a bit raw, like it wasn't cooked long enough, and it could use a little salt. If you like eating tomatoes right out of the garden, this might be for you. There's also a fairly noticeable carrot flavor — not bad, necessarily.

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This is a little complicated, so bear with me. In December, I tweeted out a photo of Victoria marinara sauce and declared it the best on the market. That was incorrect, and we regret the error. However.

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