This unique homemade spaghetti sauce has a bold, deep flavor from tons of basil, peppers, mushrooms, a few surprise ingredients, and plenty of beef! Make one batch to have for dinner tonight or make a big freezer batch and save it for busy nights! (Printable instructions are included for both options!)
My friend Courtney (who has a crazy giant heart) brought us a meal when I was pregnant with Jack. It was a rough pregnancy and anything would have been appreciated but this dinner was amazing! It was one of the best lasagnas we had ever eaten!
What makes a fantastic homemade spaghetti sauce
The genius was in the sauce, some magic combination of the entire contents of a garden. There were peppers and onions and fresh herbs and ripe tomatoes. I make a mean sauce but this had Jonathan and I both raving. Sidebar – we have spent the last five years bickering over Jon’s favorite Prego versus my amazing homemade sauce? Guess what? We now just eat this sauce…
I asked Courtney for the recipe. She had bought groceries and her coworker graciously made lasagna for us. The recipe I got back was along the lines of, “she cans her tomatoes up with peppers and all all kinds of fresh herbs from her garden.” Um…if any of you have ever tried to take level of information and make dinner you know I had my work cut out for me. But we love spaghetti sauce so I went to work this summer.
I cooked batch after batch after batch and we feasted and we gorged and we fed the sauce to all our family and a bunch of friends. I even brought some to my Dad early in the summer when we were struggling to get him to eat after going into hospice. He ate it, had seconds, and then asked me to bring it again. One of my treasured memories from the months before he passed away was that spaghetti dinner.
Making a freezer size batch
So here is the deal. This stuff is amazing but it takes a bit of time to make. My routine is to take 45 minutes to make a giant batch (about five quarts) and freeze them. They last forever in a freezer and then when we want to make Spaghetti I just thaw a quart and dinner is fast!
Tips: This great on traditional pasta or zoodles. It has a lot of mushrooms in it. If you don’t care for the texture of mushrooms you can cook them separately and then grind them small in a food processor before adding to the sauce. You can also choose to leave them out. If you are not a meat eater you can also choose to leave that out. Remember you may need to adjust the salt and the sauce will have less yield.
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce With Veggies and Meat (Dinner Size Recipe or Freezer Batch Recipe)
Ingredients for a Family Size Batch (Serves 6 people)
- 1 can diced tomatoes 28oz each or equivalent from garden
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 28oz each or equivalent from garden
- 4 Tablespoons basil pesto I use Kirkland
- 1 Tablespoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano minced
- 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Beef Base or favorite bouillon
- 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef 12%-16% fat
- 1/2 red bell pepper diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper diced
- 3 jalapeno peppers diced (see note)
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 8 brown mushrooms sliced
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon white sugar or to taste
- olive oil and salt as needed for sauteing
Ingredients for a Big Freezer Batch (Makes 5 quarts)
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes 28oz each (or equivalent from garden)
- 2 cans of crushed tomatoes 28oz each (or equivalent from garden)
- 8 Tbsp. basil pesto I use Kirkland
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
- 2 tsp. fresh thyme
- 2 tsp. fresh oregano
- 4 tsp. Better than Bouillon Beef Base or preferred beef bouillon
- 1 Tbsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. white pepper
- 3 pounds ground beef 12 – 16% fat (or 2 pounds if you prefer a less meaty sauce)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 6 jalapenos see note*
- 2 onions sweet if you can get them
- 16 large mushrooms
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 2-3 tsp. salt to taste
- 2 Tbsp. sugar or to taste
- Olive oil and salt as needed for frying
- In a large soup pot with a heavy bottom combine diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, pesto, garlic, thyme, oregano, beef bouillon, black pepper and white pepper. Turn the pot on medium and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile crumble beef into large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the beef, stirring often and cooking until the pink is just gone. Add the beef and all the drippings that have come out (so entire contents of skillet) to the pot with the tomato mixture.
- Seed and dice the red bell pepper, green bell pepper and jalapenos. Using the same skillet, fry on medium high heat with a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt until the peppers become slightly softened and take on a few dark tinges. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the peppers to the tomato mixture.
- Dice the onions. Using the same skillet fry on medium high heat with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt until the onions have softened and turned slightly golden-brown. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the onions to the tomato mixture.
- Slice the mushrooms. Using the same skillet add the mushrooms, butter, and a dash of salt. Fry on medium high heat until the mushrooms have rendered some water and have a nice golden tinge to the edges. Stir frequently and add additional oil if needed. Add the mushrooms to the tomato mixture.
- Stir your sauce well and taste it. Depending on how much salt you used in the veggie prep process and on the brand of bouillon you used you will probably need to add 2-3 teaspoons of salt now. I suggest you add one teaspoon at a time and taste between additions. Most brands of canned tomatoes are not very sweet. The sauce should be faintly sweet as if you used the most perfect garden ripe tomatoes. I generally add 2 Tbsp. of sugar to my sauce but taste before you do this because brands and garden varieties of tomatoes differ.
- Serve your sauce hot or cool and freeze. I like to make mine the day before and refrigerate it because the flavor will develop with sitting. Please do not simmer sauce for hours after everything is added. This causes the meat to become rubbery and the flavor to cook out.
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