Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Barbarian Spagetti Dinner

The Story:

As a teenager, I hosted a barbarian dinner date for a group. A vague memory whispered we'd had a lot of fun. Of course, at sixteen, that usually has much more to do with who you're with than what you are doing. I wondered if it would still be fun, or if my kids might like it. Even more importantly, would itbe a good prequel for a manners dinner I might follow up with?

I covered the table with plastic wrap and taped it down. A dish towel was placed on the back of each chair to be tied around each diner. We ate spaghetti, green salad, and rosemary peasant bread off the table. No dishes, no utensils.

I got several squeals of glee as I plopped each serving in front of everyone. "But mom, I don't have a fork."

"Hmmmm. How can you eat it then?"

Some liked it. Some LOVED it and took full advantage of the opportunity to pig out. Sadly, Briz and I are past the time when this is true fun for us. We didn't love the feel of spaghetti slipping through our fingers or watching Little Mother's hair drip with sauce as she licked off the table.

To our credit, we kept our mouths shut and let our little ones fully enjoy the change of routine. When they were finished, we herded them giggling and skipping, straight upstairs into a bath.

Clean up was a breeze. I simply rolled up the plastic wrap and into the garbage it went. No dishes!

The Recipe:

Everyone has a favorite spaghetti recipe or likes to use Prego or Ragu. I still feel that this one is worth sharing. After years of searching and experimenting, this is the best recipe I've found. Everyone LOVES it. My husband prefers a version with meat, and I prefer it without so usually we have it with meat. Yep. I'm a sucker for my sweetie. The secret to a really great sauce is time. Great sauce is a product of time and patience. For those who work all day, the crock pot becomes valuable. For me, I put the sauce on to simmer in the early afternoon and by dinner time the flavors have melded amazingly. I really feel that this sauce is worth a try. Double it and you've got a layer for lasagna the next day.

Jo Mamma's Spaghetti Sauce- makes 2 quarts

1 lb Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup water (If you don't want to simmer it as long, add less
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbs. fresh basil (optional... I use when it's in my garden)
1 tsp. parsley flakes
3/4 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8-1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine (if you use it for cooking. I rarely do.)

  1. In large heavy stockpot, brown sausage, breaking up as you stir.
  2. Add onions and continue to cook until onions are softened.
  3. Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  4. Add basil, parsley, brown sugar, salt, and peppers.
  5. Stir well and barely bring to a boil.
  6. Stir in wine if you are using it.
  7. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally for at least an hour. Just be careful not to let it burn!If adding fresh basil, add it toward the end of cooking time. It keeps its fresh taste better.
  8. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
  9. Spoon sauce over drained spaghetti noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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