Fantastic Spaghetti Sauce

This unique Spaghetti Sauce has a bold, deep flavor from tons of herbs, peppers, mushrooms, a few surprise ingredients, and plenty of beef!  It is a great cook and freeze recipe for busy nights!

This unique Spaghetti Sauce has a bold, deep flavor from tons of herbs, peppers, mushrooms, a few surprise ingredients, and plenty of beef! It is a great cook and freeze recipe for busy nights!

The last weeks of my pregnancy with Jack were pretty rough.  As in, they were actually worse than the previous seven months of hell.  I love my kid but pregnancy and I just did not get along!

My friend Courtney (who has a crazy giant heart) dropped off a meal for us and honestly we pretty much would have been grateful for McDonalds just to not have to deal with food preparation at that point.  But it was a lasagna.  And not just any lasagna.  It was one of the most amazing lasagnas we had ever eaten!

The genius was in the sauce, some magic combination of the entire contents of a garden. There were peppers and onions and fresh herbs and ripe tomatoes.  I make a mean sauce but this had Jonathan and I both raving.  Sidebar – we have spent the last five years bickering over Jon’s favorite Prego versus my amazing homemade sauce?  Guess what?  We now just eat this sauce…

I asked Courtney for the recipe.  She had bought groceries and her coworker graciously made lasagna for us.  The recipe I got back was along the lines of, “she cans her tomatoes up with peppers and all all kinds of fresh herbs from her garden.”  Um…if any of you have ever tried to take level of information and make dinner you know I had my work cut out for me.  But we love spaghetti sauce so I went to work this summer.

I cooked batch after batch after batch and we feasted and we gorged and we fed the sauce to all our family and a bunch of friends.  I even brought some to my Dad early in the summer when we were struggling to get him to eat after going into hospice.  He ate it, had seconds, and then asked me to bring it again.  One of my treasured memories from the months before he passed away was that spaghetti dinner.

So here is the deal.  This stuff is amazing but it takes a bit of time to make.  My routine is to take 45 minutes to make a giant batch (about five quarts) and freeze them.  They last forever in a freezer and then when we want to make Spaghetti I just thaw a quart and dinner is fast!

Tips: This great on traditional pasta or zoodles.  It has a lot of mushrooms in it.  If you don’t care for the texture of mushrooms you can cook them separately and then grind them small in a food processor before adding to the sauce.  You can also choose to leave them out.  If you are not a meat eater you can also choose to leave that out.  Remember you may need to adjust the salt and the sauce will have less yield.

Tools In This Post:  I use a high quality beef bullion instead of salt to really get great flavor into this sauce.  All the Better Than Bouillon Products we have used have been amazing.  We get ours at Costco but they are available on Amazon and in most grocery stores.

If you don’t own a good cast iron skillet I suggest you consider investing in one!  They are great for cooking and add good iron to your food.  This brand is worth buying. I use mine for all the veggies in this recipe. 

Love easy Pasta dishes?  You might also like this One Pan Sausage Alfredo!

OnePanSausageAlfredo

Fantastic Spaghetti Sauce - Freezer Batch Size
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Makes About Five Quarts of Sauce to freeze
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 28oz each (or equivalent from garden)
  • 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, 28oz each (or equivalent from garden)
  • 8 Tbsp. basil pesto (I use Kirkland)
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp. fresh oregano
  • 4 tsp. Better than Bouillon Beef Base or preferred beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 3 pounds ground beef, 12 – 16% fat (or 2 pounds if you prefer a less meaty sauce)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 6 jalapenos (see note)*
  • 2 onions, sweet if you can get them
  • 16 large mushrooms
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 tsp. salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
  • Olive oil and salt as needed for frying
Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot with a heavy bottom combine diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, pesto, garlic, thyme, oregano, beef bouillon, black pepper and white pepper. Turn the pot on medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile crumble beef into large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef, stirring often and cooking until the pink is just gone. Add the beef and all the drippings that have come out (so entire contents of skillet) to the pot with the tomato mixture.
  3. Seed and dice the red bell pepper, green bell pepper and jalapenos. Using the same skillet, fry on medium high heat with a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt until the peppers become slightly softened and take on a few dark tinges. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the peppers to the tomato mixture.
  4. Dice the onions. Using the same skillet fry on medium high heat with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt until the onions have softened and turned slightly golden-brown. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the onions to the tomato mixture.
  5. Slice the mushrooms. Using the same skillet add the mushrooms, butter, and a dash of salt. Fry on medium high heat until the mushrooms have rendered some water and have a nice golden tinge to the edges. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the mushrooms to the tomato mixture.
  6. Stir your sauce well and taste it. Depending on how much salt you used in the veggie prep process and on the brand of bouillon you used you will probably need to add 2-3 teaspoons of salt now. I suggest you add one teaspoon at a time and taste between additions. Most brands of canned tomatoes are not very sweet. The sauce should be faintly sweet as if you used the most perfect garden ripe tomatoes. I generally add 2 Tbsp. of sugar to my sauce but taste before you do this because brands and garden varieties of tomatoes differ.
  7. Serve your sauce hot or cool and freeze. I like to make mine the day before and refrigerate it because the flavor will develop with sitting. Please do not simmer sauce for hours after everything is added. This causes the meat to become rubbery and the flavor to cook out.
Notes
*Note on Jalapenos: The most frustrating thing about cooking with jalapenos is that the level of heat changes with every batch you buy! They are usually spicier in the winter and less spicy in the summer. If you want more spice add additional peppers or include the seeds / white part with your peppers. The only true way to determine the level of spice in your peppers is to taste for heat before cooking with them. Six peppers is intended to give this sauce a little zip but not make it spicy. Good luck!

This recipe is participating in Weekend Potluck!

Fantastic Spaghetti Sauce One Meal Size - Serves 6-8
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, 28oz each (or equivalent from garden)
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 28oz each (or equivalent from garden)
  • 4 Tbsp. basil pesto (I use Kirkland)
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. Better than Bouillon Beef Base or preferred beef bouillon
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. white pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef, 12 – 16% fat (or 1 pounds if you prefer a less meaty sauce)
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 3 jalapenos (see note)*
  • 1 onion, sweet if you can get it
  • 8 large mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 – 1.5 tsp. salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar, or to taste
  • Olive oil and salt as needed for frying
Instructions
  1. In a large soup pot with a heavy bottom combine diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, pesto, garlic, thyme, oregano, beef bouillon, black pepper and white pepper. Turn the pot on medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile crumble beef into large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef, stirring often and cooking until the pink is just gone. Add the beef and all the drippings that have come out (so entire contents of skillet) to the pot with the tomato mixture.
  3. Seed and dice the red bell pepper, green bell pepper and jalapenos. Using the same skillet, fry on medium high heat with a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt until the peppers become slightly softened and take on a few dark tinges. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the peppers to the tomato mixture.
  4. Dice the onions. Using the same skillet fry on medium high heat with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt until the onions have softened and turned slightly golden-brown. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the onions to the tomato mixture.
  5. Slice the mushrooms. Using the same skillet add the mushrooms, butter, and a dash of salt. Fry on medium high heat until the mushrooms have rendered some water and have a nice golden tinge to the edges. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the mushrooms to the tomato mixture.
  6. Stir your sauce well and taste it. Depending on how much salt you used in the veggie prep process and on the brand of bouillon you used you will probably need to add 1 – 1.5 teaspoons of salt now. I suggest you add ½ teaspoon at a time and taste between additions. Most brands of canned tomatoes are not very sweet. The sauce should be faintly sweet as if you used the most perfect garden ripe tomatoes. I generally add 1 Tbsp. of sugar to my sauce but taste before you do this because brands and garden varieties of tomatoes differ.
  7. Serve your sauce hot or cool and freeze. I like to make mine the day before and refrigerate it because the flavor will develop with sitting. Please do not simmer sauce for hours after everything is added. This causes the meat to become rubbery and the flavor to cook out.
Notes
*Note on Jalapenos: The most frustrating thing about cooking with jalapenos is that the level of heat changes with every batch you buy! They are usually spicier in the winter and less spicy in the summer. If you want more spice add additional peppers or include the seeds / white part with your peppers. The only true way to determine the level of spice in your peppers is to taste for heat before cooking with them. Three peppers is intended to give this sauce a little zip but not make it spicy. Good luck!

 

This unique Spaghetti Sauce has a bold, deep flavor from tons of herbs, peppers, mushrooms, a few surprise ingredients, and plenty of beef! It is a great cook and freeze recipe for busy nights!

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2 thoughts on “Fantastic Spaghetti Sauce

  1. Thank you for the tip on not cooking it too long. I generally hear that the sauce should be simmered a long time. I simmer mine 30 minutes to an hour but if I have the time then I let it go longer. But I have found that it really doesn’t taste any better the longer it cooks. Plus, yes, sitting overnight in the fridge definitely makes it better. Sorry for your pregnancy woes! And how wonderful that your dad enjoyed the spaghetti! 🙂

    • I’m so glad you agree! My mom figured out about sauces and soups sitting over the years and now I cook some things ahead whenever I can! Pregnancy may have been rough but Jack has been more than I ever could have imagined! Boy am I glad pregnancy only lasts 9 months!!!

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