My family loves pasta! And spaghetti with a sauce you make yourself is not only quick to prepare, hearty, and delicious, it is also one of the least expensive meals you can make. All you need is a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (my first choice is my own home-canned or frozen tomatoes, but I also like Tuttorosso New World Style with basil, purchased in quantity during one of the periodic sales), a half can of water, a teaspoon of garlic powder (more or less to your preference), a scant tablespoon of dried oregano and a rounded tablespoon each of basil and parsley, and one pound of ground beef or ground turkey. This amount of sauce is enough for two pounds of spaghetti… using the suggested serving size from the spaghetti manufacturer, this much spaghetti and sauce makes twelve to sixteen servings. Even adding in a few cents more per serving if you like cheese on top, and factoring in that most people will eat more than one serving, this is still a very economical meal.
Here’s my favorite way to make this sauce. I start with the ground meat… I use ground turkey and usually one diced onion and about four chopped garlic cloves. I cook the ground turkey, onions, and garlic with a tiny amount of oil (and a sprinkling of salt and black pepper) until everything is completely cooked. Even though the ground turkey we buy has almost no fat, I always drain this mixture in a colander before I add it to the sauce. Draining the meat is an especially good idea if you’re using ground beef… draining will really cut down on the amount of fat that goes into the sauce.
Next I mix one can of tomatoes and one half can of water with the dried herbs… and garlic powder if I haven’t already cooked fresh garlic with the ground turkey. Sometimes I use fresh, chopped herbs instead of dried.
Once the ground turkey, onions, and garlic have drained, I add them to the tomatoes and herbs and simmer everything together until the sauce has thickened. This will take at least fifteen minutes (more is better). The extra simmering is important because it gives all the flavors time to blend and will result in a much more flavorful sauce.
Have you ever noticed how commercial spaghetti sauce “with meat” has tiny bits of meat all throughout the sauce? If you use a fork or your fingers to break up the ground meat into very small pieces before you add it to the tomatoes, you will be amazed at how much more “meaty” the sauce will seem.
Personally, I think a pile of plain spaghetti with a glob of sauce doesn’t look very appetizing, so I always follow a famous chef’s tip to mix a small portion of the sauce with the spaghetti in the serving dish before putting the rest of the sauce on top. This way every strand of spaghetti gets a nice coating of sauce. I usually serve this spaghetti with homemade bread or rolls and a green salad.
This sauce is extremely forgiving. I like to cook with crushed tomatoes, but if you prefer another type, use them. If you don’t like some of the herbs, leave them out or adjust the amounts to your liking. Add salt to taste… or not. If you don’t eat meat, make the sauce without meat, or substitute mushrooms for the meat the way I often do. I always make enough sauce for two pounds of spaghetti, but if your family will eat only one pound of spaghetti, use a smaller can of tomatoes and cut the other ingredient amounts in half… or make the full recipe of sauce and freeze half for an even quicker meal another day. If you prefer whole wheat spaghetti (as we do), buy it in quantity when it is on sale.
So there you have it… a quick and easy-to-make spaghetti sauce that is hearty, delicious, AND frugal… with no additives, no preservatives, no soy, no extra fat, salt, sugar, or any of the other “extras” that are usually a part of the commercial sauces.