I love spaghetti and meatballs, but I don’t love jarred spaghetti sauce, and I’m not big on frozen meatballs from the store. Obviously, not all frozen meatballs are awful and some jarred spaghetti sauce is better than others. Still, I prefer to make my own, mostly because it’s so easy. I’ve been making spaghetti sauce for years, but I only just started making meatballs. If I’d known how easy they were to make, I’d have been making my own all along.
I use this recipe for meatballs.
For the sauce, I use a modification of June’s sauce. Who is June? My friend Jill’s mom, of course. This is what I do. It varies from time to time, but this is the essential sauce.
28 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes (I’ve used fresh Roma tomatoes, but it’s a lot of work to do that)
14.5 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes
6 oz. can of Tomato Paste
1/2 an onion chopped (or whatever is left from another recipe)
2 cloves of garlic (or 3 or 4 if that’s what’s left in the bulb or more if you really like garlic)
1 c. red wine
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
I eyeball spices by pouring them in my hand. Rub dried spices in your hand to release oils. In the summertime, I use fresh tomatoes and fresh herbs, but that requires more of both, and a lot more time. If you’ve never made spaghetti sauce, use canned tomatoes and dried herbs the first time, because it’s easier, and it will give you an idea of what the sauce should be like when you make it with fresh ingredients.
In a 4 or 5 quart pot, heat the olive oil. When it’s hot, add the onions. When the onions are almost translucent, add the garlic. When the onions are translucent and the garlic is smelling good, stir in all the herbs and let them blend with the onions and garlic for a minute. Add all the tomatoes and the tomato paste. Break up the tomato paste with a spoon and stir to incorporate it into the diced tomatoes. When it’s incorporated, let the tomatoes simmer for a few minutes. Add the sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer a few more minutes and add the wine. The longer you let the sauce simmer the more the tomatoes will breakdown and the more the sauce will look like what you buy in a jar. You might have to add more wine. You might want to add more sugar or less or none at all. I like the sugar, because it takes away any bitterness in the tomatoes. Taste the sauce. Adjust the spices to your liking. If it cooks down too much and is getting too thick, add wine. How you like the tomatoes determines cooking time. The whole thing can be done in half an hour or three hours. I like the tomatoes to still be in pieces just starting to breakdown, which takes about 30-40 minutes. Have a lovely glass of wine while you wait. Share if you want to. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, you have to blanch them and remove the skins first, then deseed them. The sauce takes much longer to cook with fresh ingredients. I’m mostly lazy and impatient, so I like it done fast.
This makes enough sauce for a pound of spaghetti noodles. I don’t make noodles. I just buy them in a box. I’ve made noodles and it’s not for me. Fair disclosure, there is nothing Italian about me (or June for that matter), so I’m not claiming this sauce is authentic in anyway.