Saturday, May 12, 2012

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce & Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti is one of my favorite dishes; it's cheap, easy and always satisfying. For years, I'll admit, I bought jarred sauce, but I would "customize" it a bit by combining brands/flavors, adding herbs and vegetables, and so on. Now, I make my own spaghetti sauce - it's really easy, plus I KNOW what's going into my sauce (and this comes from someone who still loves SpaghettiOs). 

Tomatoes not in season yet? Doesn't matter - most Italian tomato-based sauces use canned tomatoes anyway. This recipe is a basic spaghetti sauce; you can easily customize it by adding cheese, cream, vodka, mushrooms - whatever you feel like! 

Here, I'm using the sauce to make spaghetti alla bolognese, which is popular everywhere OUTSIDE of Italy, and never actually existed in Bologna. Basically, it's a fancypants way of saying "spaghetti with some meat off in it". Served simply with some garlic bread & a small salad (maybe a Caesar?), and you've got a great meal - perfect for a family dinner, a date night, or for no special occasion at all!

Spaghetti Sauce
adapted from Yammie's Noshery

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded & chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28oz can chopped tomatoes
5 Tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Brown sugar (optional)
Apple cider vinegar (optional)

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat; add the onions, pepper, carrots and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the canned tomatoes and tomato paste; mix well. Add the dried herbs & spices; taste, and season with brown sugar (if the sauce is too acidic) or apple cider vinegar (if the sauce is too sweet) to taste.

Bring just to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for an hour. Serve as is as a chunky sauce, or puree with an immersion blender for a smoother sauce.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Homemade spaghetti sauce, pureed or blended
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork or Italian sausage, removed from the casings
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Salt & pepper
1 lb spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Season the beef and pork generously with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic salt. Brown in a skillet, crumbling the meat as it cooks. Drain the fat from the meat.

Combine the meat with the pureed sauce. Serve atop the spaghetti noodles, and top generously with Parmesan cheese.

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