Oh spaghetti, how I love thee. I love thy smells and tastes and the way your deeply tinted sauce stains the front of my new white t-shirts, proving to the world that I am not ‘the cool girl’. You have stained my heart forever, dear food, and if I needed one more reason to love you, it would be this – you seem to be one of the only foods my pregnant stomach can stand.
We’ve all heard of pregnancy cravings and pregnancy food aversions and somehow they always have to do with pickles and ice cream – which makes me wonder exactly who it was that started that fad – but I’m here to share with you my first pregnancy craving, my mom’s spaghetti with meat sauce. Oh boy. It’s like magic, it is. I can be green at the gills all day, come home and whip up some spaghetti and suddenly there is a break in the nausea and my stomach actually growls, a weak, pathetic sort of growl, but all the same it is the unmistakable sign of actually Hunger. Sweet, sweet success.
I know most of you reading this probably aren’t pregnant, but why go and deny yourself this good thing? It may not be the *only* thing you can eat but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, right? Of course right. This is why I am going to share the recipe with you. It started out something that was uniquely my mom’s, I have been making it with her all my life, but like all good recipes it came to its new home and was slightly altered in the moving. That’s the beauty of timeless dishes, they stay true to themselves while adapting to whatever kitchen they find themselves in. Hopefully it does the same for you.
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb sausage ( I like to use sweet Italian, but you could use something a little spicier)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes plus 1/2 can water
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon crumbled, dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
Cooked pasta of your choice
I like to make my spaghetti sauce in a deep cast iron skillet, but you could very easily use a three or more quart pot. Heat the pan over medium high heat and then add the olive oil. The olive oil will look very liquid and shiny when it is ready. It shouldn’t smoke, but you want it rather hot. Add the onions and garlic first, stirring them and letting them saute for a bit until they are fragrant and the onions begin to look translucent. Add the sausage and a little water (like a 1/4 cup) – this will make it easier to break up. As the sausage cooks, crumble it into uniformly-sized pieces. Once it is all browned, you might want to remove some of the fat that came off the sausage while it was cooking. You can spoon it out or drain it – whatever works best for you. Now add the crushed tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and herbs. My mom taught me this trick to add some sweetening to the sauce, it helps to cut down a little on the acidity of the tomatoes and deepens the overall flavor – a trick well worth knowing.
Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer while the pasta boils. You could let this cook all day, or make it fifteen minutes before serving – I’ve done it both ways!
As I mentioned before, one of the best things about a good spaghetti recipe is it’s adaptability. This is the sauce recipe I use when making lasagna, I swap out the sausage for ground beef when I have it or skip the meat entirely and use the sauce for pizzas. It freezes fantastically and makes a quick meal even quicker when the need arises. How can you not love that? Let’s just say that, pregnant or not, spaghetti is a real winner of a meal!