Julie’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

spaghetti with meat sauce

Well, it’s official: we’ve had our first snow of the season. I can’t say that was terribly thrilling for me, but it was an inevitability, so I suppose I’ll just get over it. At least it was just big fat flurries that didn’t stick. And one of our cats very much enjoyed being in the windowsill and “chasing” the snowflakes. It was cute.

spaghetti with meat sauce

Since it’s so cold and gray today, I thought I would share some bona fide comfort food, with a generous side helping of nostalgia. This is the very first dish I ever learned to make. My mom taught me step by step, and I just tried to memorize it as I had no cooking intuition whatsoever at the time.

With some practice, and a few batches that flopped, I did master it. Eventually. It was the first dish I ever cooked for Matt while we were dating; fortunately he loved it and did not go running scared. Actually, this dish, which he has dubbed “Spaghetti, Julie Style” is one of his favorites too. I try to make it once every few months.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

I grew up eating this dish often – it was one of the few things my mom knew she could make and serve for a whine-free dinner. I’ve updated her recipe little by little over the years, but it’s not terribly different from my childhood fave. I knew I had to immortalize it on the blog, and I’m surprised it’s taken me this long. Ah, well – it’s here now, and that’s what counts!

Julie's Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

{One year ago: Fried Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Capers}

1 lb. dried spaghetti
Olive oil
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
¾ cup dry red wine, such as cabernet sauvignon
1 (28 oz.) can whole, peeled tomatoes, with their juices
2 tbs tomato paste
1 generous cup pitted kalamata olives, halved or sliced
Fresh basil or parsley, torn or chopped, for garnish
Grated parmesan cheese, for serving

Bring a large stockpot of water to a rolling boil. Salt it generously, then add the pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, according to package directions.
Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in some olive oil, then add the beef. Cook, breaking it up with a potato masher or large spoon, until it is browned and no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano, plus salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1 more minute.
Now add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Now add the tomatoes. Use a potato masher to crush them. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate completely. Lower the heat to medium and let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir occasionally, and you may need to adjust the heat level a bit. Make sure it doesn’t scorch on the bottom. Add the olives and taste for seasoning.
Drain the spaghetti and add it directly to the beef mixture. Lower the heat to low and toss the pasta to coat it with sauce. Transfer the entire skillet to a serving bowl. Garnish with parsley or basil. Serve immediately with the cheese.

2 responses to “Julie’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

  1. Julie,
    This looks delicious–I think the addition of olives at the end is pretty cool. I’ll have to try this with one of my jars of put up crushed tomatoes. Our family loves spaghetti.

    • Thanks! I love the olives in there, too. Growing up, it was always just a basic can of sliced black olives and since then I’ve upgraded to kalamatas. But I could never make this dish without black olives. 🙂

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