Thursday, August 13, 2009

Homeade Spaghetti Sauce and then some

Family dinner is important in our household. I have always loved cooking, but was never really good at making just a simple dinner. So when hubby and I made the commitment, and believe me, it is a big commitment to have a family dinner every night - give or take a special occasion or two, I determined the only way I could possibly do it is if I had a weekly meal plan. Well, after a few weeks of fumbling around with dinner, I found it easiest to make a meal plan if we had some staple meals. I have always loved spaghetti or some sort of pasta dish... It's easy. Can come in many variations! So spaghetti dinner, or some form thereof has become a weekly dish at our home.

I was never one to purchase spaghetti sauce. Although, my Italian friends tell me that Classico Spaghetti Sauce is the best jarred sauce out there - so on occasion, I pick up a jar to keep on hand for those really busy nights. And having a few Italian friends, I've heard a lot of secrets to making a good sauce from scratch. Unfortunately, if you are looking for an exact recipe, I do not have one. I was taught to wing it when it comes to cooking...

When I was about 7 years old, my dad made me some cream of broccoli soup. I am not a soup fanatic, and cream of anything sounded disgusting to me as a 7 year old. But I loved his soup. A few days later, I believe I bugged him to make some more. This time he showed me how he added a few seasonings and after that, I was hooked. I'm always altering my foods with seasoning. Maybe too much sometimes, but what can I say... it's fun! And somehow I get this delicious satisfaction in thinking that I have stumbled onto a better recipe than what the manufacturer could ever think of!

So here's my stumbled upon recipe for Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. There are few measurements, because I add different things and amounts all the time. I will start with the must haves to the sauce, and then list off the optional seasonings and other ingredients that you can add if you have or so wish.

Ingredients (must haves)
Tomato Sauce from can
Bell Pepper

(Optional Add-ins)
Garlic, Garlic Salt
Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes
Basil, Parsley, Thyme, Fennel
Carrots, Zucchini
Tomato Paste, Chopped/Stewed Tomatoes canned or fresh
Wine, Red Wine Vinegar
Sausage, Meatballs, Ground Beef, Ground Turkey, Tofu

1. Chop approx half Onion & Bell Pepper (any color or mixed) Tomato, if using, and sautee on Medium in pot with oil until onions start to become clear. If you are adding raw meat, cook with onions & peppers. Add garlic towards end of sauteeing, to lightly brown. If you are adding chopped mushrooms or veggies such as Carrots or Zucchini shred as desired (sometimes I shred on the smallest shred option and you can't even see them in the sauce, I add them for more nutrients for the kiddos) add into the sautee with garlic. (If you added meat, you can skim the grease from pan if you wish, or leave it in for added flavor).

2. Add seasonings and stir - Oregano, and whichever else you might desire. Pour can of Tomato Sauce over all ingredients cooked so far. You can combo it with Tomato Paste and add 2-3 additional cans of water. Stir and bring to simmer. Add Wine, or Red Wine Vinegar to bring a richness to the flavor, 1 Tbsp or so of Sugar/Honey helps counter balance any bitter taste that might be developing, 1 Tbsp or so of Flour adds a rich thickness - especially if you've left any fat from meats in the sauce. Let simmer some more and taste. This is when I add more seasonings and then I let it stew. Add whichever you like. I always like lots of oregano, it reminds me of the movie Heathers:) Let simmer on low.

3. After you've let simmer for an hour or two, the seasonings should be pretty set. You can serve or keep on low for later in the day. I will prepare this around naptime and let it sit 'til dinnertime.

4. LEFTOVERS - this is the greatest part about the sauce. I keep leftover sauce in the refrigerator for a variety of uses - pizza sauce, lasagna, spaghetti pie, bread dipping, etc... and mostly, I keep it in the refrig for the start of next weeks sauce. Here's how I get that started.

5. NEXT WEEKS SAUCE - Break out the onion, chop and sautee. Add leftover sauce and another can of Tomato sauce. Then you can add veggies, meat, seasonings as you so desire. But since you've already gotten the sauce to a good point when you first made it, you don't have to spend all the time. Tonight's spaghetti sauce was ready in 20 minutes based on a heapload of meat sauce from last week. Just added half onion, half green bell pepper, some garlic, fresh basil and 1 can of tomato sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment