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What to Cook for Dinner
“Spaghetti Night” is a tradition in many households. We love cooking Italian dishes of all kinds and our simple spaghetti recipe is a great answer of what to cook for dinner. Best of all, this recipe is healthy and delicious.
Spend a night or two in an Italian kitchen. You will quickly learn how passionate they are about their food. Buying spaghetti sauce in a jar is just not an option. Using cheap brands of spaghetti is a sin. Their seasonings are all fresh. And not surprisingly their food is delicious, like out-of-this-world delicious.
The first lesson you learn in the Italian kitchen is that their recipes are not simple. Well, not simple for most households. That is why there are 40 different brands of pre-made spaghetti sauce and 10 different brands of spaghetti noodles. But we wanted that out-of-this-world delicious, so we began developing our simple spaghetti recipe. When we decide what to cook for dinner, spaghetti is a favorite choice.
Humorous note: As a Midwestern farm boy, I was never invited into their kitchens. In fact, men are generally not allowed in the Italian kitchen. However, if bring a two bottles of good wine and fill a few wine glasses, you can earn a spot in the corner of the kitchen. Forget getting anywhere near the stove or the cutting board.
Simple Spaghetti Recipe: The Sauce
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes (look for No-Salt Added brands)
- 1 clove of garlic (minced)
- 1/4 cup of red wine
- 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
- 1 yellow or orange pepper (finely chopped)
- 1 6oz can of tomato paste
Put diced tomatoes in a mixing bowl. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes into a saucy mixture. Place the olive oil and wine in a stock pot. Heat on medium for 1 minute. Add the garlic and chopped pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomato mixture with 1 cup of water. Stir pot until all the ingredients are well mixed. (should take about 1 minute) Add 3 cups of water and stir again. Turn the heat to high and bring the sauce to a slow boil. (should take 3-5 minutes) Turn the heat to simmer. Add a healthy dose of Italian Seasoning. Now for the boring part: You need to let the sauce simmer for at least 1 hour. Stir the sauce every 10-15 minutes. After 30 to 40 minutes, add the can of tomato paste. Stir into the sauce thoroughly.
Simple Spaghetti Recipe: The Noodles
- 1 pkg of authentic spaghetti noodles (Get the good noodles)
- 1/4 cup of Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp of Salt
Partially fill a large pot with water. Add the olive oil and the salt. Bring to a slow boil. Put in the spaghetti noodles. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir regularly making sure none the noodles are sticking to the bottom of the pot or clumping together. Using a large colander, strain the noodles in the sink. Wash the noodles with cold water.
The Art of “Plating your Spaghetti”
Plating spaghetti properly will turn the average spaghetti dinner into a delicious treat. Begin by placing a tablespoon of olive oil on the plate. Sprinkle on a touch of ground black pepper. Place 1/2 serving of noodles on the plate. Top with some spaghetti sauce. Place the second half of the noodles on the plate. If you plan to use meat, place on meat now. Top with a generous amount of spaghetti sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why do you not include meat in your spaghetti sauce?
A: We keep the spaghetti sauce meatless because we like to use the sauce in many different recipes. One night we may do a simple spaghetti and meatball recipe. The next night a chicken parmesan recipe. What to cook for dinner now becomes using homemade spaghetti sauce in different recipes.
Q: Why should I make homemade spaghetti sauce?
A: We have one simple answer – Sodium. Spend a moment reading the labels of store-bought spaghetti sauce and you see the high levels of sodium. With a little practice, your sauce will taste better than anything in a jar.
Q: What is meant by “authentic spaghetti noodles”?
A: Fact: Better noodles taste better. Skip by all the national brands. Look for specialty brands. Look for words like “Organic”, “Stone Milled” and “Authentic”. Eventually, you will be able to judge the quality of the noodles just by looking at the color of the noodles.
Q: Why do you wash your noodles?
A: This question is often debated in the world of Italian cooking. We wash our noodles because it removes any sediments left over from the cooking process. We also believe the washing process delivers better looking noodles.
Q: Can I add other ingredients to the sauce?
A: Absolutely but one warning: Less is more. We have experimented with many flavorings and ingredients over the years. Time and time again, we revert to our simple spaghetti recipe.
Related Links: Other Simple Spaghetti Recipes