06 March 2008

I know there are many versions, but here's my...

....spaghetti. My mother taught me this recipe, and I've been using it for years. I used to make it with either Italian pork sausage or beef meatballs, but these days I've been substituting chicken sausages (they're cheap now! and at costco!!). I also used to use a pork neckbone in the first stages of simmering the sauce, but frankly, I don't have that kind of time, and I like to save that part of the recipe for special occasions.

Despite most peoples' objections to making your own spaghetti sauce (I KNOW Ragu and Prego are readily available, and quite cheap), I think there is absolutely no substitute for making your own. It's wonderful, and it's the first recipe I teach people who are just learning the cooking ropes.

I love gardening, and this summer I plan on using my own fresh tomatoes as a base for the sauce. In fact, I freeze homegrown crushed and salted tomatoes year round to use as a base for my sauce--it's really cheap, and really easy if you pack the tomatoes in individual ziplock bags.

First, if you are using homegrown tomatoes, boil a large pot of water, "score" a big 'X' with a knife on the top and bottom of each tomato, and then place the whole tomatoes into the pot for about two minutes. Remove and place the tomatoes in a bowl of cold water (this will aid in softening the tomato skin for removal and cooling it so that you don't burn your fingers). Carefully peel the skins from the tomatoes and place in a medium-high heated skillet. Add about 2 teaspoons salt and simmer until the tomatoes break up. Store in individual ziplock bags for up to nine months. When you need crushed tomatoes, defrost one for about six minutes, and PRESTO!

Canned tomatoes will do just fine, but if you are watching your sodium intake (I do--I am appalled at how much sodium is in canned goods), fresh tomatoes are a better option. Another alternative is organic crushed tomatoes, and that goes for organic chicken/beef broths as well--one can of organic chicken broth contains less sodium than the regular "less sodium" version available, and that goes for tomatoes as well.

Chicken Sausage Spaghetti Dinner (also known by my family as Kobza Rockstar Spaghetti)

2 tbl. extra virgin olive oil (you can use regular, but to really release the fresh flavors of tomato, you need EVOO)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 large white onion, diced

2 cups crushed tomatoes (1-15 oz. can crushed tomatoes)

1 can tomato sauce

1 1/2 tsp. crushed oregano (or more to taste--I like a lot of oregano)

1 tbl. parsley flakes or 2 tbl. fresh parsley

2 tbl. crushed basil

2 tsp. white sugar

5 links chicken sausage, cut into bitesize pieces

3/4 package multigrain spaghetti

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, and add onions for about three or four minutes. Then add garlic until fragrant. Note: at this point I like to sprinkle a little sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Once onions are soft and translucent, add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. Turn heat down to low-medium, and add spices, including sugar. Add chicken sausage and cover sauce with lid. Simmer on low for 40 minutes. Add spices to taste--either oregano, basil, parsley or s&p.

Boil a large pot of water over high heat and once boiling, add a pinch of salt to help soften the pasta to al dente. Add pasta and lower heat to medium. Stir a couple of times during cooking, and follow the package directions. Chances are, the package directions will only approximate cooking time--be sure to check a strand of spaghetti. It should be soft and easy to bite through but with a bit of bite left to it.

Add the spaghetti to the sauce pan, and you have Kobza Spaghetti.


Myst said...

Ooo, Thank you so much for posting this! I was trying to figure out how to go from fresh tomatoes to having what's needed when a recipe calls for canned crushed tomatoes. And I've been wanting a from-scratch spaghetti recipe for a while now to try out! I just need to find out how to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, and I'll be set. Like you, I too am appalled at how much sodium they feel the need to put in canned and frozen goods.

I've just moved to England, and it's amazing what I have trouble finding here. But it has motivated me (since I have time now) to learn how to cook from scratch. Then I'll be set no matter where in the world I go!

Myst said...

Sorry, I meant to ask before -- Alas, I don't have homegrown tomatoes, and am using regular store-bought fresh tomatoes. Should there be any differences in cooking them up for the crushed tomatoes, do you think?