Monday Night Pasta Sauce

Last week I wanted a bright and very tomato-y pasta sauce. Mark Bittman, in his cookbook “How to Cook Everything,” has several variations on tomato pasta sauce. I combined the spiced, garlicky, and spicy versions together to make this very simple and delicious pasta sauce. It doesn’t take very long to prep or cook, making it a great and quick weeknight meal. Try it and let me know how you like it!

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (or diced), in their liquid
1 small can of tomato sauce
8 leaves fresh basil, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt, pepper, oregano, to taste
2 servings spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package instruction
shredded Parmesan or pecorino Romano, for garnish

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
2. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 2 minutes, or until the garlic starts to brown slightly. (I’ve learned that if you can smell the garlic, it’s ready.)
3. If you’re using whole tomatoes, chop them first before adding them. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, and season with the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the minced basil.
4. Let everything simmer over medium heat for 10-20 minutes.
5. While the sauce is simmering, boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.
6. Strain the pasta and add into the sauce. Turn off the heat to the pasta sauce. Top each individual serving with the rest of the fresh basil and cheese.
7. Enjoy!

Mama’s Spaghetti Sauce: Vegetarian and Meat Versions

Thursday night we made homemade spaghetti sauce, inspired by my mother’s recipe.

I asked my sister how much of each ingredient we needed, since I was making the vegetarian version, and she was making the traditional meat version. She shrugged her shoulders.

“Just put in how much you feel needs to be put in.”

When I’m cooking, this is how I usually cook. Most of the recipes on this blog are written after they are made. I’m terrible at measuring (unless I’m following a recipe). For the following two sauce recipes, the measurements are estimates. When cooking, don’t be afraid to substitute or add ingredients. Don’t be afraid to taste- and modify. Be as involved as you can be.

Here we go!

Mama’s Spaghetti Sauce (Traditional Meat Version)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes to 4 hours (depending on how much time you have to cook)
Serves: 2-4

2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste (or more, for thickening)
1 cup browned ground beef
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons banana peppers
dash of red pepper
Add spices according to taste:
salt and pepper
Oregano
Basil
Italian Seasoning

1. Brown beef in a skillet on medium to high heat. When no pink is visible, it’s done. Set aside.
2. *In a medium to large pot, add all ingredients, including beef. Stir to combine. Heat over low to medium heat for at least one hour. The sauce will thicken. If too runny, add more tomato paste.
3. Serve on top of your favorite pasta. Top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
*If trying to cook this in an hour or less, first cook the vegetables in the pot with about one tablespoon olive oil. Cook until tender, which takes about 5-7 minutes.

The Vegetarian Version:
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes to 4 hours (depending on how much time you have to cook)
Serves: 2-4

1 green pepper, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons banana peppers
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained

Seasonings:
Dash of red pepper
Oregano
Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper

1. If cooking for an hour or more, there is no need to cook the vegetables first. If you are trying to cook this recipe in an hour or less, you will need to first heat the vegetables in the pot with about one tablespoon olive oil. Cook until tender, which usually takes between 5 to 7 minutes.

2. If cooking for an hour or more, combine all ingredients into a medium to large pot and cook on low to medium heat. Sauce will thicken. If too runny, add more tomato paste.
3. Serve with your favorite pasta and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

**Also, you can make our favorite pizza dough recipe (created by Mark Bittman) and form dough into breadsticks. In a small bowl, mix together: 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, and a dash of pepper and salt. Cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes (or until top is golden brown).**