I have been making this pasta dish for many years. It has my favorite red meat sauce. It comes together quickly, but the sauce tastes like I slaved over it all day. This pasta recipe is one to keep! The recipe seems to make a lot of sauce for 1 pound of pasta, but believe me, it definitely works! The spaghetti is flavorful and has an old world Italian flair that I love. It is a wonderful dinner to prepare for special occasions, but is still simple enough for a weeknight meal too. If you are looking for something that is fun, easy and delicious, I highly recommend this recipe. I'll end with a quote by Sophia Loren, "Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti."
1. If you have a large enough pot, this is a great recipe to double. The sauce freezes well, and you can divide it into freezer bags or containers. You can defrost the sauce in your refrigerator overnight or in the microwave. Once defrosted, I heat the sauce on the stove top and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. When I am browning the meats, I like to add a little salt and pepper to the mixture.
3. I drain the fat off the browned meat mixture by placing it in a colander and giving the colander a couple of 'shakes' to get rid of excess fat.
4. If you cook your sauce for the longer period of time (up to an hour), make sure you stir it occasionally. Also, you can wait to add the spices during the last ten minutes of the cook time. It is said that the spices lose their flavor (or they turn bitter) if over-cooked, but I find in this recipe that this rule does not seem to make a difference in when the spices are added. If you want to be cautious, you can wait to add the spices towards the end of your cook time.
5. Depending on the tomato based products you purchase, you may need to add a little sugar. Towards the end of your cook time, taste your sauce. Add salt and pepper as needed and taste again. If there is a bit of a 'tang' to the sauce, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to 'mellow' out the 'tang' (acidity).
6. I like to add in a little pasta water to mellow out the sauce too. This is optional, but I do think it adds a nice layer of flavor to the sauce.
7. When you boil the water for the pasta, make sure you salt your water. I usually add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of salt. It really makes a difference in the taste.
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup sweet green pepper, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (reserve 1 tablespoon)
8 ounces mozzarella, grated
4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, optional
In a large skillet, heat olive oil, and then sauté the onion, green pepper, garlic, ground beef, and sausage (you may add salt and pepper), until the meat is browned. Drain the fat.
In a Dutch oven (or a 6 quart pot if you don't have a Dutch oven), add the jar of marinara sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, and bay leaf. Stir to combine the ingredients. Add in the meat mixture to the sauce. Cook over medium heat, and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover the pot, and let it simmer for 20 minutes at minimum to an hour at maximum. Add salt and pepper to taste. Check acidity, and add sugar, if needed. Before serving, add parsley.
Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain it well, reserving 3 to 4 tablespoons of pasta water (if desired). Add pasta water to meat sauce, and stir well. Place drained pasta on a large serving platter/bowl and mix in several cups of meat sauce to prevent pasta strands from sticking together. Spoon rest of meat sauce over pasta. Add 8 ounces grated Mozzarella cheese and 4 ounces parmesan cheese over the top of the meat sauce. May add additional sprinkles of parsley. Serves 8 to 10.
(edited by Anna Weicht)