I love, love, love spaghetti sauce, and I don't mean a light marinara sauce, but a chunky sauce full of veggies and meat. Forget the pasta, just give me a bowl of spaghetti sauce and I am a happy girl! I've been working on and tweaking my recipe a bit until I've made the perfect recipe (for me at least). And here it is . . . 2-3 onions, chopped 6 cloves garlic, minced 3 pounds lean ground beef 1 pound Italian sauasage, removed from casing 1 pound fresh mushrooms, wiped with a damp towel and chopped 6 carrots, peeled and diced seasonings, to taste (Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, whatever you like) 3 23 oz cans tomato sauce 3 28 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained well 1 13 oz can tomato paste fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
You will need a large stockpot to make this recipe because it makes about 6 quarts of spaghetti sauce. I love to make a batch, eat some with pasta that night and freeze the rest in containers.
Put a large pot over medium heat and add a good swish of olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened then add the mushrooms, garlic, and carrots. Cook about 10 minutes more. Pour all of this into a bowl and set aside.
Put the pot back on the burner and add the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. After you've got it broken up into bits, add the ground beef to the pot. Cook it all until the meat is no longer pink and then drain off the fat. Put the veggies back in the pot with the meat and add the remaining ingredients. Let it simmer for an hour and then taste. Add more seasonings, if necessary. Let it simmer for another few hours. If you like, add the parsley at the end and give it a good stir.
My last post was about my favourite spaghetti sauce recipe, which makes about six quarts, I think. I usually freeze it in two cup portions and thaw as needed. Here are some of the things I make with my spaghetti sauce, besides the obvious lasagne and spaghetti. . .
1. Calzones – I buy frozen balls of pizza dough from the grocery store. One of these days I will overcome my lazy tendencies and try to make some from scratch, but until that day arrives, I will continue to purchase the frozen dough at the grocery store. I take a ball of dough (let it thaw, obviously. This would be very difficult if it were frozen) and split it into three or four pieces. Each piece gets stretched out into a thin circle. Add a good amount of spaghetti sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, fold over, and pinch edges together (you could also add whatever other ingredients you like – this is just a basic recipe). Put it on a cookie sheet or baking stone, put some olive oil in your hand and rub it all over the dough. Poke holes in it with a fork. Bake. I like to bake mine in at 425 degrees because I like it to get really crispy on the outside. If you don’t like it crispy, cook it at 350 or 375. This isn’t exact by any means, but you get the idea. Or, if you are even more lazy than me and can’t be bothered to make calzones, just spread out the pizza dough and make a pizza instead!
2. French bread pizza – A slight twist on the above idea – instead of pizza dough, I will use a nice loaf of bread. Slice in half lengthwise, scoop out some insides (save for breadcrumbs, if you are ambitious). Dump some spaghetti sauce on and spread it out. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Now, there are two choices for cooking: Baking – will produce a harder “crust” on the bread or Broiling – which leaves the bread soft but the top melty and brown. Pick whichever you way you prefer. This is another one of those adaptable recipes. Add whatever ingredients you like. I like to sauté some mushrooms and put them on the bread and then top with sauce and cheese. Another option is to make this on bagels or English muffins.
3. Baked pasta – a slightly different take on spaghetti. Boil some ziti or penne noodles (just until they have some “bite” – don’t cook too long, because the noodles will continue cooking in the oven. Drain and add loads of spaghetti sauce (I like my noodles saucy). Put in a casserole dish and sprinkle with a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake until top is nice and crusty.
4. Sloppy joes – Dump some spaghetti sauce into a frying pan. Heat up. Add a splash of vinegar and a few tablespoons of brown sugar. Stir and taste. Add more of each until you like the flavour. This produces a tangy, sweet sloppy joe mix.
5. Chili – I am a northern girl at heart so I know that my idea of chilli is not a “true” chilli, but it works for me. Dump some spaghetti sauce in a pot. Add chilli powder and ground cumin. Add a can or two of drained and rinsed kidney beans. Heat, taste, and adjust seasonings. Another one of those recipes where you can add everything but the kitchen sink. I like to throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand that are starting to look a little limp. Chop, sauté in some olive oil and add to the sauce.
6. And of course the old stand-by – spaghetti! For a twist, bake a spaghetti squash and use it for your "noodles".
Or, if you are really lazy, plain old spaghetti sauce, heated up with a little shaving of parmesan cheese and a piece of crusty bread make a great snack!