Top Pick Of The Week

February 12, 2013


Do you top your pasta with sugar? Unless you use a top-quality sauce like Vino de Milo, check the ingredients on the sauce label. Photo by Floortje | IST.

WHAT IT IS: Gourmet pasta sauce and bruschetta topping.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: It’s made from wonderfully ripe tomatoes, providing a natural sweetness without any additives.
WHY WE LOVE IT: It’s delicious, lower calorie and far more healthful; and special enough to give as gifts.
WHERE TO BUY IT: See the store locator on

Made from clean, fresh, ingredients for fully flavorful, lower calorie enjoyment. Above, tomato sauces. Below, bruschetta toppings. Photography by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

Tomato and basil bruschetta. Photo by Vitalina Rybakova | IST.


Vino de Milo Gourmet Pasta Sauce & Bruschetta Topping

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So much commercial pasta sauce—even “gourmet” brands—is sweetened with sugar. That’s because the tomatoes used didn’t have enough natural sweetness. It’s cheaper to use sugar or corn sweetener than to buy premium tomatoes.

But who wants to add more refined sugar to one’s diet? Americans are already downing 22 teaspoons of sugar each day—34 teaspoons for teens—according to the American Heart Association.* The kids’ intake can come from soft drinks and candy; but even if you don’t partake of those foods or sweeten your coffee, you’re getting your sugar in other ways.

Beyond the sugar you knowingly add at the table, sweeteners and syrups are added to prepared foods during processing and preparation. It’s cheaper to add sugar to give flavor to bland foods than to add healthful and very-low-calorie herbs.

Nutritionists will tell you to read the labels of the foods you eat, understand where the sources of added sugars are and cut back on them.

This can be tricky as the government doesn’t require labels to differentiate added sugars from naturally occurring sugars. Those 6g of sugar in a plain yogurt are naturally occurring lactose, and a “freebie” (see the footnote).

Look for label ingredients including sugar, corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, molasses or evaporated cane juice on the label. Honey and maple syrup, while natural products, are still sugar.

*The limits do not apply to naturally occurring sugars, such as fructose in fruit or lactose in milk, which are O.K. for most people. Adults should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day for women (100 calories) and 9 teaspoons for men (150 calories), according to the American Heart Association. The younger and more active you are, the more you can have.

Gourmet Pasta Sauce Without Added Sugar


Since 2003, artisan food producer Vino de Milo† has been battling the problem with delicious tomato sauces and bruschetta toppings. With bright, fun labels, we like the line for gifting as well as for everyday use at home.

With fresh, wholesome ingredients, only 10-15 calories per ounce (4 ounces is the typical serving size).

The critical ingredient—tomatoes—are grown on a fourth-generation family farm near Toledo (Vino de Milo is in Athens, Ohio).

Ingredients include fresh basil, garlic, parsley and extra virgin olive oil and those delicious tomatoes:

  • Artichoke Fennel Sauce, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper, fennel, fennel seed, onions, thyme and Chardonnay wine fresh.
  • Chunky Tuscan Vegetable Sauce, big chunks of fire-roasted eggplant, squash, and zucchini seasoned with oregano and Merlot wine.
  • Creamy Vodka Parmesan Pasta Sauce, with coarse black pepper, crushed red pepper, heavy cream, onions, Parmesan cheese, sea salt and vodka.
  • Fire-Roasted Portobello Pasta Sauce, Milo’s favorite, has fire-roasted portobellos, a touch of heat from crushed red pepper and and slightly spicy Shiraz wine.
  • Fresh Herb Marinara Sauce, an incredibly flavorful, fresh marinara made with balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper, fennel, onions, thyme and Argentinean Malbec wine.
  • Moroccan Marinara Sauce, the authentic flavors of a Moroccan tagine, redolent of cinnamon, coarse black pepper, coriander, crushed red pepper, cumin, currant purée, ginger, sautéed onions, sea salt, turmeric,
  • Roasted Garlic Sauce, slow-roasted garlic, onions and Chianti wine.
  • Spicy Roasted Garlic Cream Pasta Sauce, with crushed red pepper, heavy cream, onions and vodka.
  • Triple Olive & Artichoke Puttanesca Sauce, tomatoes with anchovies, artichoke hearts, basil, capers, olives (black olives, green and kalamata), onions, parsley and Pinot Grigio wine.

You may notice the theme of wine in the recipes (except the Moroccan sauce, which uses authentic currant purée). The concept bean with a sauce developed for a catering client, which then led to a packaging experiment. “One thing led to another,” says founder Jonathan Milo Leal. “Wine was suggested and added, and Vino de Milo was born.


Bruschetta Toppings

Bruschetta (pronounced broo-SKEH-tuh), which originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, are small grilled bread slices rubbed with garlic and topped with any variety of items. They are commonly served as a snack or appetizer—simple to make, highly flavorful and crunchy.

While the word bruschetta refers specifically to the grilled bread and not to the topping, American manufacturers have taken to selling jars of topping called   “bruschetta.” Vino de Milo’s flavors include:

  • Artichoke Garlic
  • Black Olive & Currant
  • Roasted Red Pepper
  • Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato
  • Tomato Basil

If you have access to a grill, grill the bread for authenticity. If not, you can toast it.

And if you’re avoiding carbs, fill endive leaves. It may not be bruschetta, grilled, but it’s still delicious.


See the company’s website for more information.


— Karen Hochman


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