Spaghetti (Everything but the Kitchen Sink)

In our house spaghetti is a favorite, go-to meal.  Sometimes I make it, and sometimes my husband is the chef.  Spaghetti is special and unique to each restaurant or household, everyone has a personal preference.  Meat sauce, or meat balls, thin and simple or chunky thick sauce, over angel hair or thick spaghetti noodles.  Here is our take on spaghetti.

You start with 2 jars of store bought sauce.  I usually stock up on basic sauces when they go on sale so that I always have something in the pantry.  It varies depending on the selection of sale items, but something pretty basic like garlic and basil, or garden vegetable seem to be the usual suspects around our house.  Start with a large pot, I use an oval high sided pot because it has more surface area on the bottom of the pan than a stock pot.  Root around in your fridge and pull out any of the following that you can find: onion, garlic, fresh herbs, bell peppers, carrots, celery, squash, zucchini.  During the summer months this is a great way to sneak in some less than popular veggies in a very inconspicuous way, or just get rid of the excess (squash and zucchini diced up small and sauted are hardly noticeable in the sauce once they are cooked) .  Every time we make spaghetti it comes out a little different.  We put in everything but the kitchen sink and that just depends on what is in the refrigerator.  Spaghetti is also a great way to use left over meat like hamburgers or cooked chicken, just throw it in!

Once you assemble your loot from the fridge raid (I found carrots, half a bell pepper, garlic and onions).  Chop them into roughly the same sizes, around 1/2 inch each.  Chop up some garlic and fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil if it is summer time) or put in some dried herbs.   Brown about 1 lb of Italian sausage in the bottom of the pan (removed from casings), draining if necessary.  Add all of the above veggies to the pan and saute until they have nice browned edges and are tender, anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on how much time you have and the level of heat you use.  I usually go for about 20 minutes, which gives me time to start the pasta water boiling (adding 1 egg per person to the water as soon as you put it on the stove) and begin prepping a salad to go with the meal.  You can also preheat the oven for some garlic bread about this time.

De-glaze the pan with 1/2 cup of red wine (whatever bottle you have open, pour yourself a glass too) and simmer for 3-5 minutes.  Add the store bought sauce to the pot, mix thoroughly.  Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low, let this cook together until you are ready to serve it (up to 3 hours if you are like my husband, he likes the flavors to meld thoroughly, last night it was about 20 minutes).  Once the pasta water is boiling, you can remove the now hard boiled eggs from the water and add your pasta.  Cook the pasta according to its instructions, meanwhile run the eggs under cold water until just cool enough to peel the shell.  Finally, plate up the pasta (we use angel hair), top with a healthy dollop of margarine, sauce it as you prefer.  I enjoy a high sauce to noodle ratio, where my husband wants lots of pasta with a thin coating of sauce.  Add peeled hard boiled egg on the side and optional garlic bread.  Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and shredded Parmesan cheese!


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