Of course, in the days of my childhood, we used beef to make this sauce. But as we all know, beef is generally astronomical in price, and red meat is also something we should generally minimize in our diets.
So I made the switch to turkey meat years and years ago in this sauce. I know many Italian purists out there cringe at the thought, but my kids don’t know any other way to eat this, and it is definitely one of their favorite meals of all time. And it’s just so much better for you. The only thing better from a health and budget perspective is a meatless sauce.
And, of course, as always, I am going to advise that you buy your meat ONLY when it's on sale. Otherwise, it's just a major budget buster.
I like this meal because of its ease of preparation. It has been one of my standby meals since forever. It’s also a recipe that lends itself easily to doubling and freezing for future meals. I keep both individual portions and larger sizes in the freezer, and anyone in the family can grab a container of it and have a meal for themselves or a group of us in less than a half hour.
This recipe, as written, is a very basic sauce. It lends itself to plenty of personal variation -- from the addition of diverse seasonings to the addition of different ingredients, such as green and/or red peppers, sausage, meat balls, etc. So feel free to put your own stamp on the sauce in whatever way you’d like.
This sauce can also be used as the basis for other recipes, such as meat-based lasagna, or meat-based ziti, to name a couple.
But I think you’ll also enjoy it as presented here, particularly when served with a tossed salad of fresh greens, and garlic bread. You can find the recipe for the garlic bread here.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes about 10 hearty servings
Freezes very well
Prep time – Approx. 25 minutes
Start to finish time – Approx. 40 minutes (but longer simmer time is better)
Total recipe cost – Approx. $10.00
Total per person meal cost with fresh bread and tossed salad – Approx. $1.75
For the Spaghetti and Sauce:
1½-2 pounds of spaghetti (preferably whole grain, budget permitting)
1-2 pounds ground meat (turkey, beef, etc.)
1-2 large onions
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 29-32 ounce cans tomato puree or crushed tomatoes or combination of the two
2-6 cans of tomato paste (6 ounce size) and 2-6 cups of water
½ cup of red or white table wine
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
For the Garlic Bread (optional):
Loaf of unsliced bread, or rolls, or bagels
Butter, margarine or olive oil
Recipe continues after photos.
- Peel and dice the 2 onions and set aside.
- Peel and cut, chop, or mince the 4 cloves of garlic.
- Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive or canola oil in a large 6-quart pot over medium temperature.
- Sauté/cook the onions until they are translucent, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic and sauté/cook for 1-2 minutes longer, stirring frequently.
- Add the 1-2 pounds of turkey or beef to the pot, breaking it up with a metal spatula or wooden spoon into small pieces and mixing it well with the onions. Cook the meat for about 5-10 minutes until the pink is gone, stirring frequently. Be sure to wash your hands after handling any meat, particularly poultry. Also, keep utensils or dishes that came into contact with raw meat separate from other foods, dishes, and utensils to avoid any cross contamination.
- Add the ½ cup of wine and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the 3 cans (28-32 ounce size) of tomato puree and/or crushed tomatoes. Or add 2 cans of the tomato paste and then 2 cups of water as a substitute for 1 28-32-ounce can of the other tomato product.
- Stir the sauce until smooth and blended.
- Add all the seasonings (2 teaspoons oregano, 1 teaspoon of basil, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper), mixing well. Cover the pot and bring the contents to a simmer over medium heat.
- Reduce the heat to low. Allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes, or as long as you would like. Sauces benefit greatly from longer cook times.
- About 15 minutes before you think you are ready to eat, bring a large covered pot of water to boil for the pasta. Break the pasta in half and stir it into the boiling water. Bring the water back to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer it, partially covered, until the pasta is done to taste (6-8 minutes, usually). When the pasta is done, pour it into a large colander in the sink, rinse it with warm water, and allow it to drain completely. Cover the colander and place it over a pan of hot water on the stove until you are ready to serve.
- About 10 minutes before you expect to eat, make the garlic bread, if you are having it. This is also a good time to make a salad.
- You can ladle the sauce over individual portions of spaghetti, or you can mix the pasta with the sauce in the pot or a large bowl, stirring to blend it well.
- Serve the spaghetti with fresh or garlic bread, if desired, and a tossed salad.