July 7, 2014



The key to great spaghetti is a delicious sauce that's been allowed to simmer for hours as layers of flavor meld together.

Spaghetti is a world-famous food, and everyone has a preference for which kind of sauce they prefer. Some prefer a basic red sauce, others like a chunky vegetable sauce, while others want their sauce full of meat.

I have always loved spaghetti with meat sauce. As a child, my parents would ask me if I wanted my sauce on top or on the side. That may sound a bit strange, but I grew up with homemade spaghetti sauce that simmered in a Dutch oven all afternoon. I didn't have spaghetti sauce from a jar until I was in college. My mom's homemade spaghetti sauce is good enough to eat on its own, no spaghetti needed. It is more meaty than saucy, and the sauce contains a touch of sugar.

As a child, I remember the smell of the sauce as it cooked and the scent of tomatoes and bay leaves filling the air. As it bubbled away I would sneak into the kitchen and grab a spoon for a little taste.

Our son, Carsten 3½, asks often for spaghetti for dinner. He is a picky eater and is reluctant to try new things, but his in-home day care provider, Carin, persuaded him to try spaghetti with sauce by telling him it was "noodle ketchup" on top. Her tactic worked, and spaghetti is now one of his favorite foods.

If spaghetti night at your house has become a bit boring or you're stuck in a rut, come up with a game plan to change it up with one of these out-of-the-ordinary recipes.



Spaghetti Sauce With Cream Cheese and Salsa

Salsa contains almost all of the same ingredients as spaghetti sauce, so why not throw some in to add a little unexpected kick? Then add some cream cheese to make a creamy red sauce that everyone will love.

(26 oz) can of spaghetti sauce (mushroom flavor)

1/2 cup of your favorite brand salsa(medium)

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck

8 oz mild Italian turkey sausage

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese

1 onion

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 salt

1/4 pepper

1/2 oregano

Place olive oil in large skillet and turn up to medium heat. Chop onion, then add to hot oil; sauté for approximately 3 minutes. Add ground beef and sausage. If desired, add salt, pepper and oregano. Stir and cook until both are well-browned (about 20-25 minutes). Remove oil from pan (tilt the pan and spoon it out or drain meat in colander). Add sauce, then add the salsa. Cover and cook at medium heat until sauce starts to bubble (about 15 minutes). Cut cream cheese into chunks and stir into the sauce. Cook and stir until thoroughly melted (about 15 minutes). Serve over pasta, rice or bread.



Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

If you don't have time to keep an eye on the stove, throw together all of the ingredients for this sauce from Damn Delicious the night before and let it simmer away through the night or during the day.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lb ground beef

1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed

1 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained

2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef, sausage, onion and garlic. Cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef and sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat.

Place ground beef mixture into a slow cooker. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours.

Stir well, and serve immediately.



Chunky Garden Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti sauce brimming with chunky vegetables is sure to please your family this summer. This recipe from A Kitchen Addiction includes onion, carrots, green pepper, summer squash, and tomatoes to make a flavorful combination.

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup onion, coarsely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup carrots, coarsely chopped

1 cup green pepper, coarsely chopped

1 cup yellow summer squash, finely sliced and quartered

10 cups tomatoes, washed and cut into chunks

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

In a large saucepan or medium stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add in the onion, garlic, carrots, green pepper, and summer squash. Cook until onions turn translucent and vegetables start to soften, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Increase temperature to medium-high. Add tomatoes and spices. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil stirring occasionally. When sauce reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (the longer you let it simmer the fewer chunks there will be). Stir occasionally to prevent any sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat.

Use sauce immediately or allow it to cool completely before transferring sauce to freezer-safe containers. Keep a container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks if you want to use the sauce shortly. Store the rest in the freezer.

Yield: about 9 cups



Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

Spice up your sauce with a recipe by Country Woman. The sauce is made with both tomato juice and tomato paste. The addition of bay leaves during cooking time gives off a distinctive aroma and adds a depth of flavor to the sauce.

1 lb ground turkey or beef

1 large onion, chopped

1 can (46 oz) tomato juice

1 can (12 oz) tomato paste

1 can (4 oz) mushroom stems and pieces, drained

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon garlic salt

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 bay leaves

hot cooked spaghetti

In a Dutch oven, cook the beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato juice, tomato paste, mushrooms, and seasonings; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaves. Serve with spaghetti.

Yield: 6-1/2 cups



Super Duper Extra Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

For those who like their sauce thick and meaty, this is the sauce for you. Extra flavor from the bacon is an added bonus and the cornstarch thickens up the sauce just enough to stick to the noodles.

1/2 lb bacon, chopped cut crosswise into narrow strips

2 onions, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

5-6 garlic cloves, chopped (or pressed)

2 lbs Italian sausage (pork or turkey), casings removed

1 1/2 lbs lean ground meat

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)

2 tablespoons dried basil (divided)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 cup dry red wine

1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste

1 cup red wine

1 lb mushroom, roughly chopped (or sliced)

2 (32 oz) cans spaghetti sauce (any flavor)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat pan, add bacon pieces and fry until crisp. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil. Add ground meat and sausage, salt, onions, and peppers and cook about 3 to 4 minutes until meat is beginning to lose its pink color.

Add mushrooms, 1 tablespoon basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, marjoram, and continue cooking until vegetables are soft and meat is beginning to brown.

Add tomato paste and cook until it begins to brown on bottom of skillet stirring constantly. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so until it is fragrant.

Pour in wine and deglaze pan, stirring it to loosen all of the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Let it cook until the wine is reduced by about half and the mixture is very thick. Add diced tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. Simmer for 20-30 minutes (the longer the better). Add another tablespoon of basil.

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water and stir to form a slurry, and stir into sauce, continue to cook for about 10 more minutes on low heat. Serve sauce over spaghetti.