Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

One of my favorite comfort foods, especially in the winter, is a big pot of spaghetti.  And the good news is, my grandmother’s sauce is so simple, you’ll never use the jar stuff again, I promise.  Plus, you can make the whole meal for $8.  This is a super-speedy weeknight meal, especially if you use angel hair whole-wheat pasta, which cooks in just 2-3 minutes.

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
  • (2) 8oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1() 4oz tomato paste
  • 1 jar sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 diced green bell pepper (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp dried oregano leaves
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt

In a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, sweat the onions for about 30 seconds, then dump in the ground beef.  BEGINNERS TIP:  allowing the onion to ‘sweat’ means you let the heat start cooking the onion and releasing the flavor.  Then, dump in the ground beef and mix well with the onion.  Brown the meat, about 5-6 minutes or until cooked.  Drain meat.

Dump in the tomato sauce, paste and the empty paste can full of water, the mushrooms and pepper (if desired) and mix well.  Then, add the oregano, good-size pinch of sugar and salt to taste.  Let simmer until you’re ready to eat.  The longer it simmers, the better, but it’s ready as soon as it’s hot.  Serve over angel hair pasta and a green salad.  And don’t forget a big class of Chianti.

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Heirloom Tomato Pasta with Shrimp

This could could go one of two ways, but the good news is, you can’t go wrong.  Late August is the perfect time for savoring the sacred Southern tomato and this dish really lets them shine.  This is a simple, healthy and light pasta sauce, which you can either cook down into more of a sauce or cook quickly and make a bruschetta topping.  Either way, divine.  Even Frank liked it and he doesn’t love pasta or tomatoes.  Yay!

Heirloom Tomato and Herb Pasta

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  • package of paparedelle or egg noodles
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped into small pieces (different colors is ideal)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • pinch of fresh oregano
  • pinch of fresh thyme (don’t overdo this one)
  • S&P
  • Pecorino cheese to taste
  • 3/4 lb shrimp

OK.  Cook the pasta according to directions, adding a dash of salt to the water.  In the meanwhile, start your sauce.  Heat up the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet and then saute the shallots for about 4 minutes, until soft but not burned.  Throw in your garlic and cook another 2 minutes.  Be careful not to scorch the garlic, add more oil if you need to.

Then, turning the heat down a bit to medium, toss in your tomatoes and herbs with a healthy dashing of salt and cook down.  Here’s where you can either cook them down, making a more liquid sauce, about 10 minutes.  Or you can quickly cook about 2-3 minutes and keep the tomatoes more in tact for a brucshetta-type topping, if you prefer.  Mix in the cheese, if preferred.

While the tomatoes simmer, cook the shrimp.  Coat another nonstick skillet with olive oil and heat thoroughly.  Throw your shrimp in and cook about 2 minutes or until slightly pink.  You can overcook shrimp in a heartbeat, but you’ll know they are done the second they lose transparency and start to become opaque.

Serve the pasta topped with sauce and shrimp.  This fresh, light summertime pasta screams PINOT GRIGIO!