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So, since I've lived at home, there has been a boxed spaghetti mix that has always been especially good to me. The thing I like about it is a subtle heat of some kind of pepper or spice. I've tried recreating it but have never even came close. I would love to be able to remake the sauce mix with fresh ingredients and tone down the amount of salt that goes into it. Has anyone tried this and able to identify what this spicy factor is?

For reference, here is what the box looks like (in America anyway)

enter image description here

  • I assume you don't know the ingredient list, or you're trying to fill in a nebulous "natural flavour" or "spice blend"? Is there some other culinary spice you're trying to isolate (like oregano or Italian seasoning) or just the heat-spice? – hoc_age Jul 22 '14 at 1:49
  • I guess all of it, but especially the heat because I've never had a spicy spaghetti sauce like it. Maybe there is a common Italian heat spice that's in it or something – Earlz Jul 22 '14 at 1:50
  • From the spice mix: Dried Onion, Salt, Food Starch-modified, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Sugar, Spice, Dried Garlic, Dried Celery, Artificial Color – Jolenealaska Jul 22 '14 at 3:44
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    "Spice" is the secret ingredient the OP is looking for. – Carey Gregory Jul 22 '14 at 3:45
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    Is this a southern thing or something? I've lived my whole life in the US and have never encountered anything like it. – Marti Jul 24 '14 at 0:42
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I love the Kraft Tangy Italian spaghetti sauce seasonings and I just experimented with several of the suggestions listed above. I added some dried crushed red peppers into a blender along with Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Dried parsley leaves and an off brand "Italian Seasonings" blend of dried herbs and blended them all together. That was a good start, but then I added a little white vinegar and blended up some mushrooms and poured it all into an 18 quart roaster because I needed to make enough spaghetti and sauce for 50 adults. I began with 1 29 oz. can of canned tomato sauce and also added to it 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with onion basil and oregano already in it. That was close, but needed to add some pepperoncini peppers about 1/2 of one per the above measurements of sauce. I added a teaspoon of powdered onion soup mix and a drop of Worcestershire sauce a drop of Louisiana hot sauce and 3 drops of soy sauce and then it tasted really close to it, or so much so that my wife and kids as well as my own tongue could not make out the difference. Hope this helps and works for you as well.

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I also enjoy reverse-engineering recipes, so here's some thoughts.

I've never heard of this product, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't simply crushed red chili pepper flakes and/or black pepper. For a product like this, it's probably something commodity or inexpensive. Perhaps you've already tried these things...

A way to bisect this might be to search for a jar of pasta sauce that is as close as you can find to the basic flair of the target sauce. Then add things like crushed red pepper or black pepper to see where that takes you.

The box seems to say "just add tomato paste," so it's possible that it's something in addition to spicy-heat, like acidity or umami that you will get from tomato paste. Might be worth adding that, or other acid (like vinegar or Tabasco), or other umami like mushrooms or anchovy. Or even olives...

But if you're going that far, just make Martha's pasta puttanesca! :) It's fresh and simple.

Happy hacking!


Edit:

After seeing the ingredient list in the comments above, it reads more like onion soup mix or instant ramen noodle packet than pasta sauce! I stand by my blind recommendations! Final notes:

  • MSG and HVP are for umami (i.e., monosodium glutamate; hydrolyzed soy/vegetable protein). You can find this stuff at Asian markets, but... I personally wouldn't. :) As I posited above, you can get umami from more "conventional" ingredients, e.g., porcini mushrooms, anchovies, soy sauce, etc.
  • Add black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to your other favorite jar of pasta sauce.
  • Abandon ship. Make puttanesca. :)
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    Nooch (nutritional yeast) or grated Parmesan might work well instead of refined MSG. Also, do not forget that dried onion/garlic powders do not taste the same as minced/pestled/pureed onions/garlic. Also note there is a potential thickener in that mixture (modified starch ... which can mean one or more of a few dozen possible modifications :), texture might be more substantial to the whole experience than assumed. – rackandboneman May 4 '15 at 22:05
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Kraft Tangy Italian can be replicated using their list of ingredients. Tomato paste and sauce (find your preference in amounts, I like more sauce (or diced or crushed tomatoes) with a tablespoon of paste) , onion powder, garlic powder, celery powder (or celery seeds), sugar (small quantity a must), I don't use the Soy protein, Mono Glu or Food starch...those are stabilizers and this gets eaten... the only thing left is their "SPICE"...it is FENNEL...that is the key to the taste of Kraft Tangy Italian for our family. Careful a little goes a looooong way. Get too much and this stuff is yukky (speaking from personal experience). Get it right and I have yet for anyone to tell the difference! Heat?? have not tasted any heat from the boxed mix but if you want you could add any of the peppers. Cayenne, Paprika, flakes

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Let me answer your question. I HAVE recreated the heat and the tang of this sauce. The heat is cayenne pepper powder. The tang is vinegar. Period. Add each and jeep tasting till you get it right. Don't forget to add 1/2 tsp. sugar as well to balance the sauce.

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    If you have any pickled peppers in your fridge, you might try using some of the liquid from that as it'll give you sour, heat, and a little bit of sweetness. – Joe Jul 7 '15 at 23:23

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