I've posted recipes for homemade marinara on here before. But honestly, when I want plain ol' spaghetti, I reach for the jars. Yep, even though making sauce from scratch is actually pretty easy, sometimes life and work and running all get in the way. Truth be told, I LOVE having jars of spaghetti sauce in the pantry. At any given time, I have jars of sauce and boxes of dried pasta on hand, and I usually have Italian sausage in the freezer as well.
Today, I wanted spaghetti, and had almost everything I needed here at home. However, if I hadn't had everything on hand, Publix and Winn-Dixie both tend to run pretty regular sales on pasta and sauce. So, the next time you see a great BOGO deal, go for it!
Instead of posting an actual recipe, I'll just explain what I do to take plain jarred sauce, and class it up a bit.
As far as meat goes, I NEVER use ground beef in spaghetti. Never have, never will. Instead, I use Italian sausage; I used to buy the links and simply remove the sausage from the casings, but most stores carry 'loose' bulk sausage now, which makes the process a lot easier!
I always use TWO jars of sauce. Sometimes I mix and match; different flavors from different brands, or two different brands altogether. Here I'm using Classico, but I've got two different flavors:
One way I like to class up sauce is by adding fresh vegetables. I always use garlic and onion, and I usually add sauteed mushrooms, well, because I like mushrooms. Feel free to add diced bell pepper, or even some grated carrot for a touch of added sweetness. If you have picky eater kids, you can add grated carrot or zucchini and they won't taste it at all, but will still get all of those great nutrients!
First, I brown the sausage, crumbling it up as it cooks. I'll be preparing everything (except for the pasta) in the same pot.
Next, I remove the meat and drain off the excess grease, leaving just enough to saute my vegetables. Sometimes I remove the grease completely and just add a touch of olive oil to the pan. I cook the vegetables just until softened and translucent.
When I use mushrooms, I add them after cooking the onions. Mushrooms tend to be little sponges, so I almost always have to add some olive oil.
Once the mushrooms are sauteed, I add the sauces.
Finally, I add the sausage to the sauce.
Stir everything to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce. You're not worried about cooking the sauce, just heating it through.
Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper if you like. I always add some form of herbs/spices. Fresh basil and oregano works great. If you don't have any on hand, just use Italian seasoning. I also like to add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes for a touch of heat, especially because I always use MILD Italian sausage.
Cook your pasta. This is pretty self explanatory - the instructions are on the box. When you drain the pasta, don't toss them with oil or run hot water over them to unstick the noodles. This washes off all that sticky pasta goodness that helps the sauce adhere.
That's it! I like to serve spaghetti with a side salad (usually from a bag) and some toasted bread, usually just a sliced baguette from Publix, broiled lightly in the oven.