In Progress Spaghetti Recipe(Tips?)

Joined Aug 5, 2011
As of now, I'll be making spaghetti tomorrow and I want a meatless, tomato based recipe. At the moment I only have SOME of the ingredients in my head.

I'm thinking of adding
  • Tomato Paste
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • very few chopped chili peppers(I like spice)
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Zucchini
  • Chopped Onions
  • Chopped Garlic
  • And I'm not sure as to what Spices I'll add
Joined Aug 5, 2011
Well I think I'll add a little bit at first and then after I finish, I'll determine how much it needs by tasting it. I know I'll also be adding basil as well. I'm on the fence right now about whether I want to add redwine.
Joined Aug 5, 2011
Do you care to elaborate? I don't mean to sound ignorant, but I am very new to serious cooking.
Joined Sep 18, 2008
For me, a basic tomato sauce:
  • Olive oil, just enough, not too much /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • Tomato paste, umm, ok, one 6 ounce can
  • Roma tomatoes, #10 can= 6 pounds 6 ounces (2.89 kg)
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Run Roma tomatoes through a food mill and discard skins and seeds. Alternatively, peel, seed, and chop finely, keeping juice

Sweat onions and garlic in olive oil, when softened, but not colored, add crushed red pepper, then add tomato paste and cook until rust colored.

Add tomatoes with juice, then add oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to taste. bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for five to ten minutes, remove from heat.

Though you can simmer to thicken, I prefer to use Signature Secrets (or equivalent), I don't like the idea of a roux in this case.

Cool, chill, and store in refrigerator or freeze in suitable quantities (I use 1 cup containers, just enough for four, then again, I do NOT like my pasta swimming in sauce, coated yes, NOT swimming!)

Now, if you want zucchini, julienne, then saute, reserve, heat sauce in large saute pan, cook pasta al dente, add to saute pan, maybe a little (1/2 cup) pasta water, toss and heat, add zucchini, toss, plate, NOW with the grated Parmesan
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Pete - nice recipe.

I am guessing this is for 4 people, so this is what I'm basing it on.

For myself, I start with the basic mirepoix.  Equal parts of diced carrots, onions, celery.  Say a cup of each. 2 cloves of crushed garlic. Sweat off (i.e. don't brown) in a splash of olive oil.  Add a couple of Tbsp tomato concentrate/paste (however you call it in your neck of the woods).  Stir well, till a little thick.  Add a tin of diced tomatoes.  Stir.

I like to add some wine, red or white now, say 1/3 cup, it doesn't really matter.  Stir this in, allow to simmer for say 40 minutes, adding more water if it gets too thick, stirring ocassionally.

You could even add some sliced chilli (mild) and/or capsicum (bell pepper) at the mirepoix stage.  Personally, I like to add a good pinch of dried oregano leaves, same of sweet paprika.  Cook until soft, season to taste.  Enjoy!

P.S. a tsp or two of sugar can help in a tomato sauce, as sometimes it gets a little acidic.
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Joined Feb 1, 2007
My basic recipe is almost exactly like Pete's. I use a bit less tomato paste, though, and often add a touch of sugar to negate any bitterness. And sometimes I include bell pepper as well.

A note on basil: You should be using fresh, and adding it---as with all fresh herbs---and the end. While most herbs dry well, retaining their base flavor, this is not true of basil. Dried basil has a totally different taste profile, and personally I'd leave it out if I couldn't use fresh.

What are you're plans for the Parmesan? Concievably, using the rind could add an interesting flavor note to the sauce. But you don't want to add, say, grated cheese to it. Save that for sprinkling on the plated dish.
Joined Oct 2, 2010
I always make small fresh batches of that sauce, just enough for a 3 persons pasta. In summer with fresh tomatoes, canned in other seasons.

I use olive oil/ 1 onion/ 3-5 or more cloves of garlic/ pinch of dried chili flakes/ fresh oregano in summer dried in winter/ fresh thyme/ 1 bay leaf/ 4-6 ripe ferm tomatoes not necessarely plum tomatoes/ dash of white wine/ my secret weapon (don't tell anyone); tiniest bit of Knorr chicken bouillon cube

Simply sweat in a tbsp of olive oil; chopped onion and finely chopped (not pressed!!) garlic for a long time on very low fire with added chili flakes, thyme and oregano. Add dash of white wine and let evaporate.

Add tomatoes chopped in small parts but with skins and seeds. Crumble a small corner of Knorr chicken bouillon cube over it. Add bay leaf. Cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes or until the tomatoes start to fall apart when you touch them.

Take off the lid and let reduce into a rustic sauce. s&p. Add freshly boiled pasta and fold in preferably with a tbsp or two of the pasta's boiling water. Serve on individual plates and grate some parmezan or pecorino over it. A little excellent olive oil to finish.
Joined Sep 18, 2008
To clarify, my recipe above makes, approximately, 3 quarts (12 cups) of basic sauce. My apologies for not including the yield.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
Take a look at this recipe.  It covers the basics of what you're trying for -- something which touches on marinara, primavera, and just generic tomato sugo -- without quite going all the way to any of them.  It also uses some tricks of the trade, like using sugar and coffee to enhance the tomato taste, which are very good to learn and have in your pocket.

If you want to add zucchini, you can either saute it after the garlic and before adding the tomato paste, or at the same time as adding the tomatoes.  From a purely technical standpoint, the problem with chopped or coined zucchini is that the pieces can release a lot of water -- and that's pretty much it as far as a saute goes.  So, don't put them in too soon.  You might also want to consider cooking them separately by sauteing in olive oil, along with some onions and peppers, adding capers at the end, and serving them on the side.

You certainly don't need a roux or any thickener other than tomato paste to tighten almost any tomato sauce.  The secret is a combination of paste and reduction.  Tomato paste seems to add structure and taste better if it's browned off in a saute, rather than being added directly into liquid. 

Good luck,

Joined Sep 18, 2008
...You certainly don't need a roux or any thickener other than tomato paste to tighten almost any tomato sauce.  The secret is a combination of paste and reduction.  Tomato paste seems to add structure and taste better if it's browned off in a saute, rather than being added directly into liquid. 
Absolutely agree. The ONLY reason I mentioned a thickener is that "she who must be obeyed" commented she wanted the "fresh taste" but thicker /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif, so, for home use, I thicken it, never found a need to otherwise.
Joined Aug 5, 2011
I'll take all of these tips into effect as I make the spaghetti tonight. I look forward to tasting it! I'll post again as to how I liked it.
Joined Aug 13, 2006
There are two things to consider.  besides the "less is more" of PeteMcCracken. 

Are there good fresh tomatoes available (locally grown, real tomatoes, red and juicy and tasty?  And is it summer where you are ?   Summer calls for a lighter and less cooked tomato sauce.  My favorite for summer is a pummarola - you put tomatoes (these can even be canned, which may be better than what you find where you are) and a celery stalk, a carrot, an onion, all cut roughly in large chunks, boiled together till they're soft.  Then you blend them or put through a food mill (immersion blender is best.  if you put in the actual blender, put very little at a time or cool it first - if not the heat will make the top come off and splash you with hot sauce).  (notice that this has no sauteeing - the flavor is fresh and light and summery) 

Cook the pasta, toss with parmigiano, then with the sauce adding a walnut size piece of butter.  You can also add fresh basil, but only at the end - cooked basil changes flavor.  The cheese, added before the sauce, adheres to the pasta, and forms a sort of cream (don;tn mix it much at all, or it will all stick to the bowl or pot instead!)

Another summer recipe is with crushed garlic sauteed with or without hot red pepper (chilli) and then tomatoes added, cooked really only enough to take away the raw flavor. 

No basil in this case, but rather parsley added at the end. 

Long cooked sauces are (to my taste) more suited to winter. 

If you want to do zucchine, try doing a pasta with just onion or garlic and zucchine (either grated, or sliced, or chopped) and sauteed VERY slowly till tender.  I suppose that at THAT point you could add the tomato though why cover the delicate taste of zucchine.  Zucchine are too mild a flavor to add anything to tomato sauce i would say., 

Save the tomato paste for winter sauces, i'd say. 

Oh and all these would have salt of course and pepper if you like (i do)
Joined Oct 2, 2010
Not so long ago I watched an Italian chef make pasta with cherry tomatoes.

They have to be very summery ripe and sweet. He used a lot of olive oil to start, put in quite a lot of sliced garlic, added the simply halved cherry tomatoes, cooked them for a very short while, gently pushed on them with a large spoon, done. Then he put in the boiled pasta, shredded basil leaves in it and added parmezan flakes that he shaved from a block of cheese.
Joined Aug 17, 2011

Noticed your post from a few days ago.  I also am learning how to make a better spaghetti sauce.  I took my mom's recipe, tweaked it a little, and am still tweaking it.

Since the entire community is heavy with fresh tomatoes, I've been making a lot of sauce in the past  week and a half.  Tomorrow I make my third batch.  Here is the recipe that I've been following, (though each time I've changed it up a bit, like tomorrow I intend to toast and crush 1 to 2 tsp fennel).  

8 plus tomato's blanched and skinned; 1/2-3/4 de-seeded and all chopped and set aside.

Olive oil, 1/2 lb turkey and package of hot Italian sausage (tomorrow I go sausage-less, 1 lb of turkey and add toasted fennel) 

No tomato paste.

Four chopped onions and

1 or 2 chopped bell pepper.

4 bay leaves.

2 chopped cloves of garlic

Some fresh basil leaves, some oregano and less salt.

After browning the meat thoroughly cooking onions and bell pepper; leave in the grease and add:

@ 16 oz canned tomato sauce 

freshly chopped tomato's and juice

@ 16 oz canned drained diced tomato 

Bring to a boil, than simmer and add:

More fresh basil  (and I'll probably add the crushed and toasted fennel here)

2 chopped cloves of garlic (4 total)

2 large stalks of celery (flavoring only, not for consumption.  Can be cut in half for convenience).

touch of sugar

Taste and texture:

Needs to reduce and thicken (to taste) over simmering heat.

Salt/Sugar/Oregano.  Add if needed.  Less is more.


@ 1/2 hour or less prior to being properly reduced, add:

Lightly sauteed sliced mushrooms in a clove of garlic. (do not wash mushrooms;  use damp towel and cook in small bit of olive oil)

Not sure how much the recipe makes.  I think it's somewhere around 6-8 quarts.

I've been pleased with this recipe so far.  Had friends from out of town come and stay with my parents locally, and they enjoyed the sauce very much.  I am looking forward to continuing to tweak this recipe; especially as I become more familiar with how fennel (toasted or not) impact's the flavor's.
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Joined Aug 17, 2011
I'm no chef, and I am pulling this recipe from memory, so I'm sorry if my measurements aren't exact.

However, I double checked my pot, and it's a 6 quart pot.  It is full of sauce when I'm done with the recipe.  If its not 6 quarts of sauce, its 5.  I may have left off a can of diced tomato's; but as you noticed in the recipe,  I did not confine myself to just 8 tomato's either.  Also, don't forget I also have a pound of meat and four onions.  It's a chunky sauce.
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