Friday, June 24, 2005


I realized I make pasta a lot, but I never make good old spaghetti. When I ended up with some leftover canned tomatoes in my refrigerator (Trader Joe's has the freshest-tasting canned tomatoes, but they only come in big 28-ounce cans), I decided to use them up by getting out my mom's recipe and giving it a shot. I made a few adaptations (added red pepper flakes, used fresh mushrooms instead of canned, tossed in an Italian sausage I found in the freezer) and voila! It was great. The best part is that this recipe makes a ton of sauce--I halved it and had more than enough to cover a pound of spaghetti, giving me 6 servings of food right then, plus an extra container of sauce to put in the freezer. If you make the full recipe, as my mom does, you'll have plenty of sauce to freeze and whip out later for quick and easy meals.

1 pound ground beef or turkey (if you like, use less beef and make up the remainder with Italian sausage removed from its casings)
1-2 onions, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
8 ounces white or brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons fennel seed
12 ounces tomato paste
28 ounces canned chopped tomatoes, undrained
28 ounces canned plain tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
salt, pepper, and chopped fresh parsley to taste

1. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. When it's hot, add the ground beef/Italian sausage, breaking the pieces up with the back of a spoon. When the meat begins to brown and release some liquid, add the chopped onion, the garlic, the mushrooms, the red pepper flakes, and the fennel and let everything cook until the meat is fully browned, the onion is soft and transparent, and the mushrooms are browned (their juices released and mostly evaporated).

2. Add the canned tomatoes--paste, chopped tomatoes, and sauce--and then, if necessary, enough water to make the sauce the desired consistency (probably about 1-2 cups). Added seasonings--the dried oregano and basil, and salt and pepper to taste, plus red wine if desired.

3. Stir everything together and let it simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. (During this time, cook some spaghetti.) Throw in a handful of chopped fresh parsley, simmer a few more minutes, and then it's done.

Serves: um, a lot. This will cover at least 2 pounds of spaghetti. You can freeze any or all of it for later (the sauce alone, not the noodles), either in Ziplock bags or in Tupperware.
Time: 1 hour

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