Thursday, March 1, 2012

Make it Yourself: Spaghetti Sauce Two Ways

This "Make it Yourself" series is my version of a series a friend of mine has on her blog.  It's a great idea, and I'm sure she won't mind my adding mine to the bunch...After all, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".  I'll add these as they come to mind, which may or may not be often, lol.
So, how do you like your sauce?  Thick and chunky, full of garden-fresh veggies or thin and simple?  I like both, but I tend towards the veggieful variety of spaghetti sauce.  What better way to incorporate more nutrients into my kids' meals?  You can also blend half to make it less noticeably chunky. (If you are using the optional meat, blend before adding.)
These really are great sauces that I've adapted for my family over the years.  The recipe makes a big batch, enough for 2-4 meals depending on how many you need to feed and what you are using it for.  They freeze well, which is why they're a big batch.  Actually, that developed because of a red sauce lovin' pregnant mama who craved spaghetti {of all things} for weeks on end in her last pregnancy.  It was easier to make the sauce once a week than every time she needed spaghetti.  Shockingly, she came out on the other side with her red sauce love intact.  ;) I hope you enjoy it!  (I apologize for the lack of photos--I made this and fully intended pictures but plum {tomato} forgot.)
EtA:  Gotta add, homemade sauce is SO much better than store bought!  I recently bought a jar of GF sauce just to have on hand--a high quality one that we used to like, and it was so disgusting to us, lol.  Even if you don't end up preferring my version, please, please find a happy home made sauce that works for you--it is so worth it.  There.  Continue on...

Thick and Substantial Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

3/4 c. cold pressed olive oil 
1 small red onion, finely diced
5 mushrooms, chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
1 small zucchinni
4 cloves garlic, diced
1small can chopped olives
2 tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried parlsey (fresh herbs are also nice if you've got them!)
2 - 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste plus 2 cups water
2-3 tbsp.  honey (cuts acidity)
a pinch of salt if the olives weren't enough for you ;)
a couple grinds of black pepper (not too much, it'll make it bitter!)
1 1/5 pounds cooked ground beef, turkey or turkey sausage, optional (I like half beef/half turkey)

In a large heavy (non reactive) pot, add olive oil, onion, mushrooms, carrot, and zucchini.  Bring to a medium-high heat and saute until veggies begin to soften. (I use the onions as the main indicator.)  Add garlic and herbs; cook another minute or two.  (Be careful not to burn the garlic.)  Add tomatoes, paste, water, honey, and pepper.  Bring to a nice simmer and turn to low.  Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar.  Stir it occasionally and let it simmer for about an hour.  You can go a bit longer, if desired.  Good Stuff.  I use this for lasagna, spaghetti and other pasta bakes.  Freezes very well.

Creamy Pasta Sauce

2 - 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 c. cold pressed olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp. honey
a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper (not too much; we don't want bitter sauce here!)
1 tbsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. parsley
chopped olives and mushrooms, optional
1 lb. cooked ground beef or ground turkey (I like half and half)

The Italians may start with fresh tomatoes (and I've done this when I've had the time and garden-fresh paste maters) but I've found the crushed canned tomatoes to work just fine.  This can easily be doubled and frozen in recipe-sized quantities.
In a heavy large pan, add olive oil and garlic.  (Also mushrooms and chopped olives, if using.) Cook about a minute, making sure not to burn.  Add tomatoes, honey, seasonings and the optional meat.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes, uncovered.  Add lid, make sure you are cooking on low and simmer another 20-25 minutes.  If you want this super un-chunky, you can blend after cooking.  This is great for when you want a lighter sauce that will really coat your pasta.  I have also used this as a pizza sauce in a pinch. 

A note:  Please don't skimp on the olive oil.  It gives the depth that makes these sauces so authentic.  And please use real olive oil, lol.  I specify  cold or first pressed because from what I understand, it's the only way to tell that you are actually getting olive oil--if not stated as above on the bottle, you may have olive oil diluted with whatever cheap vegetable oil is available.  Be sure you're getting what you pay for!


  1. Looks so great! Yes, we only eat homemade fact, I bought a good jarred sauce once after Oliver was first born, and everyone was complaining as if I were giving them total garbage or I guess that's a good thing.

    Anyway, your versions look great! I have a couple of our old-standby's, and it is by far cheaper, and healthier and so tasty..and not very much work, either!

    God Bless! Oh, and I'm glad you did a make-it-yourself! It is fun to inspire mama's to do some of these common things from scratch!

  2. You ought to add your versions to your series. I have a few others to add...we'll see how fast I can get them up, eh. Funny how kids get. I have to say though, that it was all I could do to choke it down myself, lol
    Thanks for the comment! It's always good to hear from you!