spaghetti with meat sauce

sphagetti with meat sauce

I loved Spaghetti night when I was young.  It was one of the few American culinary traditions that my mom took part in.  I would request it once in a while because it was fun coming home and finding out that it wasn’t the regular rice, soup, fish, veggie and or meat dish.  Instead it was the one time that I thought I was like the rest of my classmates with their starch and meat meals.  I realize now that I’m glad I didn’t grow up eating more of what my classmates where eating, or I would not be able to write most of these posts for this blog.  But, I loved spaghetti night!

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized that spaghetti was the name of the pasta and not the sauce, but I didn’t care.  It was good.  My mom never really studied nor learned Italian food in Taiwan, it’s not a common flavor combo, but she still made it her  way.  She would take a jar of mushroom tomato sauce and then add more mushrooms and then add ground beef.  It was easy, quick, and tasted amazing.  Essentially my mom was making her own version of a Bolognese sauce.  Traditionally a Bolognese sauce has pancetta, meat, wine, tomato paste, and sometimes cream or milk.  But there are a lot of different versions of it now.  It’s like their version of mac and cheese.  There is one original recipe, but there are a variety of family recipes out there.  But one thing that is common with a Bolognese is that it is more meat than it is tomatoes.  Much more.  My Mom’s recipe was jarred sauce, mushroom, and beef.  It’s how I always though Italian food should taste.  A nice thick, chunky, beefy sauce.

It’s weird that an Italian style pasta sauce will make me think of home, but that’s why I love food.  Food allows us to feel comfort and emotions when we eat certain foods.  It takes us back somewhere happy, sad, or excited.  I know I have brought this analogy up already, but I will always refer to the scene in Ratatouille when Anton Ego has his first bite of his dish and is taken back to his childhood.  That’s what this sauce is like to me, amongst many other dishes that you see on this blog.

My mom would always buy the fresh pasta at the supermarket instead of the dried ones to use in this dish.  My brother and I didn’t like it so much.  If you are going to use fresh pasta, either make it yourself or buy it at the farmers market.  There are preservatives and stuff in the store bought kind that give it an interesting texture, and I don’t use the term interesting in the positive way.  If you can’t make it yourself or don’t have a farmers market to go to with fresh made pasta, just buy the dry kind.  It’s just as good.  And if you have a Trader Joes by you, they sell the Mire Poix (celery, onion, and carrots) already diced and measured correctly.  It’s great and saves time.  But cutting is fine if you have the time.  I find it meditative.  Also, no need to pay extra for fresh herbs if you don’t have any around…since you are stewing your sauce for a while dry will do the work.  The fresh herbs would be cooked to the point of no recognition.  And, remember, there isn’t suppose to be too much tomato in it.  It’s a meat sauce not a tomato sauce.  So don’t worry if it looks too chunky.  That’s what makes it good.


2 cups onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 lb beef, ground

1 tbs garlic, minced

3 tbs olive oil

3 cups mushroom

1 tbs tomato paste

1 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes

1 ½ tsp salt + salt for pasta water

1 tsp ground black pepper

1½ tsp dried basil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

¼ tsp red chili flakes

1 lb spaghetti, uncooked


boil a large pot of boiling water and season with salt for the pasta

brown ground beef with oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot on high

sauté onion, celery, and carrots with beef until onions are translucent

add the mushrooms and cook on medium heat until mushrooms began to shrink

combine the rest of the ingredients to the pot except for dried pasta and let simmer on low for at least 40 minutes and up to 1½ hour

cook pasta according to directions and transfer to pot with sauce and mixed

garnish with grated Parmesan to taste.

-serves 8-


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