Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Spaghetti: A Simple Classic

When Sloan and I first started dating, I tried to make a lot of really impressive and complicated dishes. And while there is definitely something to be said for fancy dishes (and you eat with your eyes first, so even simple things should be pretty!), I think he really fell in love with my cooking when I started making some of my classic favorites.

Spaghetti definitely falls into that category. I grew up eating pasta on a regular basis, with a variety of sauces. Although my family is in no way Italian (except one forbidden Sicilian romance in the 13th century or so - my mom really loves genealogy) we ate a lot of it. It's cheap and feeds a ton of people, which is great when you grew up in a house where people stopped by often and unannounced.

This dish is great for two, for a crowd, even to make ahead and reheat as leftovers. Bonus: it's easy to make with or without meat, or to use zoodles instead of pasta, all depending on your own needs!

Classic Spaghetti
*serves 4 easily

1 jar red sauce (Rao's Arabbiatta is good, as is Newman's Own Sockarooni)
1lb 80/20 ground chuck
1 red onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves
1 box spaghetti
Olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Cajun seasoning
Parmesan (optional, but who doesn't love cheese?)

1. Fill a large pot with water, add a small amount of olive oil and a couple of pinches of salt. Boil and cook pasta until al dente.

2. In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add chopped onion and stir frequently, cooking until almost translucent.

3. Add chopped bell pepper to the onion, cooking for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

4. Add ground chuck to peppers and onions, then salt and pepper to taste. Add crushed red pepper and cajun seasoning. Stir frequently, breaking meat up into smaller pieces but making sure it browns. (If you're not using meat, obviously you can skip this part!)

5. Add garlic cloves and continue to stir frequently until all meat is browned.

6. Add jar of sauce and reduce heat to low. Season more to taste, and simmer 30-45 minutes, allowing flavors to come together and sauce to reduce slightly.

7. Drain pasta, add to sauce, and stir. Serve with a dash of crushed red pepper and fresh parmesan shaved on top!

This pasta is great with garlic bread (like these garlic knots I think I got at Kroger) or salad, and reheats well. To freeze, simply let the sauce cool down a bit, put it in a freezer safe container, and freeze. Reheat as needed.

It's not a storied, traditional recipe, but it's quick, easy, and tastes amazing!

Want a great wine to go with your spaghetti? Check out Sloan's review of Ji Ji Ji!

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