Today’s post is sponsored by Stella® – who has a crazy impressive line of cheese. (I should know, I used four of them!)
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I have been CRAVING spaghetti and meatballs lately – not the spaghetti and meatballs that you get in a restaurant but my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. Basically, the best spaghetti and meatballs EVAH!
My mom is one hell of a cook. A lot of my classic recipes on here are ones that I grew up with and come straight from her, usually by way of a phone call requesting her to sit down and read me the ENTIRE recipe, often repeating lines and ingredients, while I jot it down.
This was an attempt at a knock off of one of my favorite lunch spots, Lemonade. I kind of have a love hate relationship with that place. If you’re not familiar with Lemonade, think total California fare served up cafeteria style. You stand in line, picking out whatever salad, sandwich, soup, etc…, that you want, following the person in front of you.
The hate part of this relationship stems from my awful luck of getting stuck behind the person who wants to taste… everything! Lemonade is so kind to offer a “taste” of anything that you’d like, but some people take it a little overboard. If you taste everything, you are basically eating your meal… in line… while everyone waits behind you. And it just so happens that I am behind this person, every.single.time.
Sorry to be so drastic (aka demanding) but it is seriously one of the easiest things to make and it is worlds better than any store bought version. Did I also mention you need about three items? You can always add more depending on your taste but a basic sauce needs just three things – tomatoes, basil and garlic. I add a little red pepper flake into mine but you could seriously skip it.
So why make it at home instead of easily picking up a jar at the store? Depending on the brand, store bought sauce can have a lot of sugar in it. This makes it gloppy and heavy. When you make sauce at home, even when you used canned tomatoes instead of fresh, you get a flavor that is richer and more balanced than any store bought version.
I also prefer the texture of homemade sauce. Store bought can be over pureed and homogenous. I like the chunks of tomatoes and to have the color of fresh basil dotted throughout.
Depending on what I’m making the sauce for I may throw it in the food processor for a second or two (like for a marinara dipping sauce). But if I’m using it for spaghetti or lasagna I will just use it as is because as the sauce cooks, the tomatoes will break down in to the perfect texture and consistency.
Preparing the sauce is as easy as cooking garlic in a little olive oil and adding tomatoes. When those tomatoes break down I finish with some salt, pepper and basil. That’s it! When I make my sauce I buy two big cans of peeled, whole San Marzano tomatoes and I grab a pair of kitchen shears and stick them right in the can and give the tomatoes a rough chop. This makes it easier for the tomatoes to break down while cooking.
But don’t underestimate the time it takes for this sauce to cook. It takes about 45 minutes once the tomatoes are added to the pan for them to begin to break down. If you stop this process too early you’ll have a watery sauce.
So please, try making your own sauce. Your taste buds will be very happy you did!