My parents make the world’s best spaghetti. They don’t know where the recipe came from but they’ve made it the same way for decades. It’s the first recipe I learned to cook by heart. The sauce is not garden-fresh or fancy — instead, it’s an easy pantry meal using ingredients you always have on hand. But it’s not boring or typical. It’s a hearty sauce with depth from red wine and olive oil, bulked up with savory olives and mushrooms, all cooked into a thick stew-like texture. I’ve made it before without the beef and it’s delicious vegetarian style too.
Favorite Spaghetti Recipe (serves 4)
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- one small yellow/white onion, diced
- a few cloves of garlic, minced
- one small can of mushroom pieces
- about half a can of black olives, sliced
- 14.5 oz can plain tomato sauce
- small (6 oz?) can tomato paste
- a splash of red wine
- a glug of olive oil
- dried oregano & basil
- salt & pepper
- dried pasta of your choice
Choose a skillet with a lid. Heat to medium-high. Brown beef, breaking into very small chunks. Reduce heat to medium. Check if there’s enough fat left to saute veggies — if too much, drain excess; if too little, add oil. Add onions, mushrooms, and garlic and saute until onions are translucent. Stir in tomato sauce and tomato paste. Fill the empty tomato paste can with half wine and half water, and add to sauce. Stir in the sliced olives. Season liberally to taste with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and cover loosely (tilt the lid slightly so it prevents splatters, but allows steam to escape so that the sauce thickens). Reduce heat and simmer a half hour or so until thick, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, boil water and cook the pasta according to the box.
- I prefer 85% lean ground beef because it seems to have the perfect amount of fat left over for cooking the vegetables. Also makes the best hamburgers, IMHO.
- I don’t use cheap cooking wine; I just use whatever I’m drinking with dinner. But if you don’t drink much wine, a great option is the tiny bottles sold in 4-packs for picnics. That way you don’t have leftovers to waste.
- The box will say 2 oz of pasta is one serving, and many popular recipes suggest 4 oz per person (yikes!), but I like to make 1.5 oz per person — so 6 oz for this whole recipe. For me, the sauce is way more important than boring old noodles.
- Top with grated parmesan or fresh herbs if you want to get fancy.