I am all about comfort food. What I love even more is food that is dead simple to make and that stores easily. That’s probably why spaghetti is my all time favorite dish. Judging from how many brands of spaghetti sauce there are at the grocery store, I would venture to say that not many people make their own sauce anymore. This was one of my mom’s staple recipes and I don’t think I ever saw her use sauce from a jar her entire life. This was the first recipe I asked for when I moved into my own apartment during college and I’ve been making it ever since. I’ve tried jar sauces before, but I always wind up feeling like I’ve let my mom down. Plus none of them taste even one fifth as good as homemade.
Usually I make up a big batch in the early afternoon and just let it sit on the stove and simmer until I’m ready to start cooking the pasta. After dinner I store it in the fridge and heat it up for leftovers all week long. On spaghetti weeks I almost always wind up making other dishes with it, like baked spaghetti, ravioli or lasagna. I love being able to make something up at the beginning of the week and get several dinners out it!
Pam’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Sauce | Servings: 5-8
Prep time: 5 min | Cook time: 1 hour 15 min | Total time: 1 hour 20 min
- 1 lb. thawed ground round beef or ground turkey (optional if you’re not into meat)
- 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
- 2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
- 1 package McCormick spaghetti sauce mix or 2-3 tbsp. corn starch*
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano or 3 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tbsp. dried basil or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 bay leaf (dried or fresh)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 medium onion, chopped or 1/2 tsp. onion salt
- Salt and pepper, to taste (usually just a dash will do)
* Using the packet, you get a pretty thick sauce (which is how I like it). Using corn starch, I didn’t think it was thick enough and wound up adding another can of tomato paste. If you like thinner sauce, then try halving the amount of corn starch/mix and tomato paste. It does thicken after cooking, but it never gets that much thicker than it is initially, so you can just add a can of paste and a tablespoon of corn starch at a time until it gets to a thickness you like.
- Cook beef in a skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through. Drain the grease and transfer the beef to a large pot.
- Put the skillet back over medium heat (no need to clean the pan out) and cook the onions and garlic (if using) until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add tomato sauce, tomato paste and the equivalent amount of water (fill up the cans with water after you empty them) to the large pot with the beef.
- When the onions are cooked add them to the pot along with the sauce mix or corn starch and herbs. Stir well. Bring to boil.
- Turn to medium-low heat and let simmer for at least an hour (the longer the better). Alternately, you can cook over low heat for 4-6 hours. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
This recipe doubles really well and can also made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen. Just thaw and heat up on the stove. It’s also a great base to have fun with and make your own, like adding in other herbs and mushrooms, red wine or whatever else you want in there.