There is only one recipe I’ve ever created. And this is it.
I guess that’s not quite accurate because I’ve made so many variations on this recipe that I’m not quite sure what the base even is anymore.
This weekend I prepped a new version with a few changes that turned out particularly well. I thought I’d walk you through it.
If you buy spaghetti sauce, you should really really think about making your own. It doesn’t take long (If I make it, it definitely doesn’t take long) and it tastes so much better. I made this up when Eric and I were still dating and he insisted it was better than the spaghetti he’d get from the Italian place by his apartment. I still don’t agree, but it sure was cheaper. Also, you can freeze it and make it whenever you want. Or you could throw it in the crock pot for a few hours. You really can’t lose.
I decided to try adding more veggies to our sauce, since I have trouble getting enough veggies in my diet. Normally I only use one onion and some garlic. This time I threw in some more.
The onion is still there (I used sweet instead of yellow just for kicks), but I threw in a green pepper, a zucchini, and a bunch of baby carrots I had, since I keep a stash around to snack on. I chopped them all up but made sure to separate the zucchini. It doesn’t take as long to cook and you don’t want it to get super super mushy. So I put my onion, pepper and carrot together and sauteed them in some olive oil on Medium.
They say having a lot of colors in your meal is good, right? I like the colors already.
While the veggies are sauteeing, I pull out my sausage. I never ate meat sauce growing up, but I find it makes the meal a little more substantial and Eric definitely prefers it. Normally I use turkey sausage but I couldn’t find any at the store. So instead I just got pork. (Good thing I’ve added all those veggies.) To be honest, the pork gives you more flavor but I try to only use it once in a while.
I always use hot sausage. In fact, you may have noticed I haven’t added any seasoning at all. I won’t add any later, either. Using hot sausage means I already have all the seasoning I need. If you decide to opt for sweet sausage or go meat free, you can season with whatever you’d like. (I’d add it to the sauteeing veggies.)
Make sure you remove the casings from the sausage, and use about a pound.
But before I add the sausage, I throw in a couple cloves of minced garlic and my zucchini that’s been sitting all alone. Give the garlic a couple minutes to be nice and fragrant, and make sure the zucchini gets heated and coated with just a little oil.
Normally I add the sausage to the veggies, but that’s with only one onion. With so much more veggie in the pot, I had to remove most of them and add them again when the sausage was starting to brown. I like the veggies to get plenty of the flavor from the sausage. The biggest hassle about making spaghetti sauce is getting the sausage all bite sized. For this I have a very special piece of kitchen equipment.
I make sure I have a good spatula and I call Eric into the kitchen. He breaks it up for me and my arms get a little break.
Once the sausage is browned you’re almost done. If you’d like, you can add red wine to the cooking sausage. I always do when we’ll be having a bottle with dinner. (Not this time, of course.)
Then you pull out a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. I’ve found these to have the best consistency for sauce, and there’s no extra ingredients or herbs. Along with the crushed tomatoes I’ve tried a wide variety of others. Puree, sauce, diced, but this time I decided to go with a 15 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes, it seemed to be appropriate for my garden-style sauce. Make sure you drain the whole tomatoes first or else you’ll be waiting a long time for all that liquid to simmer off. I try to break up the tomatoes with a spoon, but you don’t have to work too hard. They should break up through simmering a little bit. You can also add a little tomato paste or basil now if it suits you.
The key is to make sure you haven’t started the spaghetti yet. I make this mistake almost every time. I always try to rush this recipe, but the best sauce is one that’s had plenty of time to simmer so it’s not too watery and it’s super flavorful. If you can give it a good 45 minutes or hour, that’s awesome. Then just make your spaghetti when you’re getting ready to eat. We usually do whole wheat noodles with this recipe.
Then once your pasta is cooked and your sauce is simmered, you’re all done.
I didn’t chop everything super small, just small enough so it would saute nicely. If you’ve got veggie-averse kids you can always dice it up smaller so they aren’t as obvious.
Both Eric and I agreed this was one of my better efforts. I definitely need to incorporate more veggies into our sauce on a regular basis, especially since this is such a staple in our house and I usually serve it without any side dishes. The only thing missing was a healthy sprinkling of parmesan on top. But I can’t be too mad about that. It was only gone because Eric tossed it while cleaning out the fridge, and while I love my parmesan, I also REALLY love having a clean fridge. I love it even more when I wasn’t the one to clean it.
The hot sausage gives this just the slightest kick, it rarely leaves it actually hot. If I’m in the mood for a spicy sauce, I throw in some crushed red pepper with the sausage and sprinkle cajun seasoning in with the tomatoes.
This leaves plenty of leftovers (we generally have a good 4 cups left over). We’ll be having it again tomorrow and I doubt either of us will mind in the least.
Now if only I had a decent camera, I’d almost look like a real foodie.