Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Experimental Cooking: Chunky Spaghetti Sauce

Growing up, my mom made the BEST spaghetti sauce. It was just the right blend of sweet and salty, and was chunky enough to feel like you were getting a decent meal. When I started living in places where I had my own kitchen, I got the recipe from her and started making it. But over time, the canned sauces and tomatoes that she used have vanished from the grocery store shelves. I've been trying to recreate the recipe using different things for a while now, but I've finally got it to where I think I like it... at least until these things vanish...

Chunky Spaghetti Sauce (makes at least 10 servings)
1 large can of diced tomatoes (I'm not sure on the size of this can, but I'd estimate it around 24 oz or more)
2 15 oz of tomato sauce
1 small can of tomato paste
3 Roma tomatoes (skins still on, diced)
8 baby sized sweet peppers or 2 regular sized sweet peppers (diced)
1/8 of a sweet onion (diced)
1 cup of water

2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

Put all of this into a large pot, bring to a boil, and then turn down to simmer for 3-6 hours.

Commentary: Depending on how hot your "simmer" setting is on your stove, this should cook for at least 3 hours, but can cook much longer. Just keep a close eye on it, because it will start to cook down. You'll want to stir it regularly, and you can add tomato juice or water if it starts getting too cooked down. I usually make this on a Sunday, starting around noon, and letting it cook until dinner time. The leftovers freeze REALLY well, so I portion those into 2 serving containers, which makes it easy to reheat for another meal!

Variations: They are many.
  • My mom always browned a pound of ground beef and mixed it into the sauce before she started cooking it. Italian sausage would be another good choice. It does make it a more filling meal.
  • You can add more raw veggies of your choosing to the mix. I added a pint of crimini mushrooms to it once (only let them cook for about an hour, unless you prefer mushy mushrooms). I added about 2 cups of shredded carrots the last time I made it, and you couldn't even tell they were there! When you're cooking it for as long as you do, you lose a lot of the flavor of the veggies, but they're still delicious!
  • If you added a bit more water, this would almost work as a chunky tomato soup, with a bit of an Italian flavor to it.

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