Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Celebrity chef pasta sauce, angry lobsters and organic sweet potatoes

At $7.69 for a 25-ounce jar at the ShopRite in Hackensack, celebrity chef and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich surely is laughing all the way to the bank, as the label on her hoity toity pasta sauce shows.

Prego, which is made by Campbell Soup Co., should explain what's "traditional" about adding sugar to pasta sauce, and using dehydrated garlic instead of fresh.


Should you pay more for such a basic as bottled pasta sauce just because a celebrity chef slaps her mug on the label?


A 25-ounce jar of Lidia's Vodka Sauce lists "heavy cream" as the third ingredient, and for the privilege of clogging your arteries, you'll pay an outrageous $7.69 for it at the ShopRite in Hackensack.

Few pasta sauces are made from the short list of ingredients you'll find on the front label in the Victoria brand, and its delicious Vodka Sauce doesn't contain any cream, heavy or otherwise.

Victoria Marinara is available at Costco Wholesale, and ShopRite occasionally has great specials on all of the Victoria sauces.

Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Pastas from Italy are $1.25 a pound at ShopRites in Hackensack and Paramus or less than non-organic whole wheat pastas from DeCecco and Gia Russa, even when the latter goes on sale, lower right.

At the Hackensack ShopRite on Sunday, I was looking for salted codfish when I came upon a Battle of the Giant Lobsters, above and below. I was told they weighed 4 pounds to 6 pounds.

These big lobsters were $12.99 a pound.

Salted codfish

The Hackensack ShopRite had 1-pound bags of salted codfish from Canada on sale for $7.99, a discount of 50 cents, less than the price at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro.

I bought four bags, as well as a package of Luigi Vitelli Organic Whole Wheat Penne; two half-gallons of ShopRite Lactose Free Milk ($2.99 each); and antibiotic-free Readington Farms chicken drumsticks and thighs.

I used a coupon for $5 off a purchase of more than $40. 

The Trader Joe's at 404 Route 17 north in Paramus charges $1 a pound for organic sweet potatoes when you buy a 5-pound bag, above, but nearly $1.50 a pound if you buy only 3 pounds, below.

Sweet deal?

The Paramus Trader Joe's now stocks both 5-pound and 3-pound bags of Organic Sweet Potatoes -- a great bread substitute at breakfast or any meal -- but you'll pay more for the smaller size.

A 5-pound bag I bought on Monday afternoon contained small sweet potatoes ideal for baking until they are oozing with natural sugar, as well as larger ones for boiling and mashing with extra-virgin olive oil, skin and all.

This morning, I cut up about 3 pounds of big organic sweet potatoes and boiled them in a covered pot with more than a half-pound of peeled California Garlic Cloves from Costco Wholesale until they were soft (about 40 minutes).

I used a half-dozen seasonings -- sea salt, cinnamon, curry powder, garam masala, black pepper and red-pepper flakes -- and a generous pour of olive oil before mashing them.

You can fry two organic eggs sunny side up and when you eat them, break the yolks over mashed sweet potatoes for a breakfast that is both filling and comforting.


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