Our first visit to Nashville was for a Dave Ramsey business leadership event. I must say, we love Nashville. It is such a beautiful place, rich with country music history and good times.
During this event, Dave had a private dinner for all the attendees at a little place called Mangia Nashville. This dinner was unlike any other. First of all, we didn’t order anything. We simply sat, drank wine and they just kept bringing out food… for 3 hours! The best part of the night was when the performers/dancers came out and danced to fun songs. Then they got everyone in the restaurant to get up and dance, too! I’m talking conga line, and so much more! My husband and I danced and laughed so much, it was incredible. If you’re ever in Nashville, you must make a reservation at Mangia!
After that I started following Mangia Nashville on social media. They posted an interview they did with owner/chef, Nick Pellegrino, and he talked about how easy it was to make your own pasta sauce. (I’m sure you can google it.) I was inspired to experiment at home and here’s what it has evolved into.
For the record, I just want to put it out there that I’ve come a long way from microwaved scrambled eggs. Yes, it’s true. Don’t try it, they’re as awful as it sounds. I have absolutely no professional training and do not claim to be any kind of chef. I am just a wife & momma in training. So, if your cooking skills are right up there with some of my favorites – Julia Child, Giada, Pioneer Woman, you might frown upon my ways!
Since our kids are older, they’ve been asking me how to make certain things. My niece has been asking me for this particular recipe for a long time. So essentially, any recipes I share on here are mainly for them. It’s my way of leaving something behind.
Being in the kitchen can be fun. Serving others is special. Seeing their faces light up and ask for more, now that brings me joy.
We don’t have to be perfect chefs. Everything doesn’t have to be from scratch or fresh from the farm. As long as we try our best, cook with love, and serve others, that’s enough.
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
I don’t normally measure when I make this. Keep in mind that these measurements aren’t set in stone, they are just a very close estimate to what I use.
2-3 (28oz.) cans of San Marzano Tomatoes (crushed or peeled)
*for this recipe and pictures below, I used 2 cans
Fresh basil leaves – washed (I simply tear into pieces over pot)
7 large garlic cloves – peeled, crushed
½ onion – peeled, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Sea salt – to taste
Freshly ground pepper – to taste
Italian herb seasoning – to taste (I use Spice Islands brand)
Directions for basic sauce:
Pour about 2 tablespoons olive oil into a pot or Dutch oven (mine is 4 quarts in size). Turn heat to medium and add garlic and onion. Brown garlic and onion for a couple of minutes. (I also add a dash of salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to mixture while stirring.)
Add 2 cans of San Marzano tomatoes. Note: If using the whole peeled tomatoes, I simply use wooden spoon to lift tomatoes out and gently slice into smaller chunks with a knife right on the spoon. Yep, I know this probably goes against all kinds of cooking etiquette! Just keeping it real guys. You can put them in a food processor or blender, but I prefer it hearty over super smooth. Besides, that’s too much extra work for me.
Add remaining olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, and Italian herb seasoning (about 2-4 shakes or so). Add fresh basil by simply tearing into smaller pieces over the pot. Stir and let simmer (on medium-low) for approximately 30-45 minutes. It gets better the longer it cooks, so no rush and feel free to let it simmer for an hour. Cover with lid or you’ll have sauce splattering out of the pot. Be sure to taste it and add seasoning as needed.
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (with meat & veggies added)
In our family, I also add ground beef (or meatballs if I plan way ahead) and the following to our spaghetti sauce. We like it a little chunky with lots of veggies.
Tip: If you want to add ground beef, start cooking it before you begin the tomato sauce so it’s ready to add to the sauce.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 cup mushrooms – washed, sliced
½ cup celery – washed, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Directions for meat & veggies:
Brown beef in non-stick skillet over a little olive oil. Season meat to taste with salt, pepper and Italian herb seasoning. Once cooked thoroughly, drain (if any grease), and add to sauce above.
Using the same skillet, add butter and sauté the mushrooms and celery for a few minutes (medium-high). Add to sauce, stir, and simmer for same time noted above.
While the sauce is cooking, I start boiling the water for the pasta. Follow directions for pasta and serve sauce over pasta. Top with grated cheese (Sartori SarVecchio Parmesan is my favorite) and you’re all set. Don’t forget the garlic bread & glass of red wine (for the adults, of course)!
Enjoy! Or shall I say, Mangia!
Thanks to my son for helping me with the pictures & thanks to our furry family member for taste testing the sauce! (She’s waiting for more! Can you spot her fuzzy feet?)