We had another gloomy day of rain on the weekend that made it feel decidedly like fall. Just the kind of day to have a big pot of something bubbling away on the stove all day. So with all the tomatoes I have floating about, I thought it would be a good day to make a big batch of spaghetti sauce.
This is my own recipe that tends to vary every time I make it. It’s based on one that my mom used to cook when we were little and I have no idea where she got it from.
I love it because it’s so versatile. It’s made almost entirely from scratch but you can cook it up quickly on nights when you don’t have much time while your pasta is cooking. When you have more time, you can cook it slowly for a few hours so the flavours really come out and combine. It’s easy to double the batch and freeze some for quick meals during the week. And you can really add any kind of veggies and spices you like to suit your own taste. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this one!
I also use this as the sauce for my lasagna but I add some ricotta or even cottage cheese just before I start layering it with the noodles.
This time of year it’s wonderful to make it with fresh herbs or tomatoes from your garden but dried herbs and canned tomatoes work just fine during the rest of the year. And most importantly, it goes great with a glass of red!
Melissa’s “famous” Spaghetti Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 package (0.5kg) lean ground beef
3-4 cloves of garlic (more or less to suit your taste – but I love garlic)
1 156ml (5.5oz) can of tomato paste
1 398ml can of diced tomatoes (substitute same amount of fresh chopped tomatoes if you wish)
1 398ml can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Substitute fresh chopped up herbs where possible – the rule of thumb for converting dried to fresh is 1 tsp of a dried herb = 1 tbsp of the fresh. Depending on your tastes you may want to add more or less of all of these or add your own spices. I rarely measure them – I just toss them in by the pinchful and taste as I go along.
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add diced onion and cook until golden and translucent.
Add ground beef and cook until browned, adding in chopped or crushed garlic cloves as it cooks.
Add salt, pepper and herbs and give a quick stir to combine.
Add tomato paste and give another quick stir to combine.
Then add crushed and diced (or fresh) tomatoes and stir till combined.
I also sometimes add a 1/4 cup of water here, if I plan to let the sauce simmer for a while – crushed tomatoes sometimes leave a lot in the can when you add them so a good way to add the water is to use the can and swirl it around to get all the leftover tomatoes off the sides and into the pot.
Lower the temperature to med-low and let the sauce come to a boil. Lower it down to low or simmer and add the parmesan cheese – stirring until it’s combined.
If you need a quick sauce, let it simmer for 5-10 minutes before serving. If you have the time let it simmer for about an hour to give the flavors a chance to come out nicely.
Serve with cooked spaghetti noodles – sprinkle some grated Parmesan on top or garnish with some fresh parsley.
A batch this size is enough to feed 4 or for one lasagna casserole.