Great Additions to Store-Bought Spaghetti Sauce
Lately, I've been trying to eat healthier and cook a lot more at home. Now, living with my mom, she made a mean pot of spaghetti that was a favorite in the family. Going to college and just plopping some Ragu sauce onto my bed of noodles and eating as is was incredibly disappointing in comparison. While I don't have the storage space or cooking skills to makes spaghetti sauce as great as my mother's, here's a few tips I've learned to making spaghetti an extremely satisfying meal.
Don't just eat the sauce as is; you should add some vegetables to your mix, with optional meats.
Some good vegetables to put into spaghetti sauce: green bell peppers, white onions, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, small broccoli cuts. Make it as chunky as you want! Frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh when cooking.
Some good meats: ground beef, meatballs, bacon, and I've even tried and enjoyed hot dogs.
If you do choose a meat, cook it first, thoroughly and completely. Next, you should dice and saute any bell peppers or onions you add, until either the peppers are soft or the onions start browning. Now, add the spaghetti sauce at a medium to medium-low heat. If you're cooking with a pot and a lid, that's great, but if you're like me who only has one pot for cooking the noodles, using a frying pan or sauce pan is fine: just continually add water to the spaghetti until you've cooked your vegetables to where you'd like them.
If you have seasonings, herbs, or anything like that, you should add them right after you add the sauce. I personally use an Italian blend of herbs, garlic salt, and a pinch of regular salt. Then it's time for any vegetables that aren't onions or green peppers. My all-time favorite veggies to add are carrots and zucchini. Carrots can actually combat the acidity of the sauce (and can be used in lieu of sugar if you use that to lessen the acidity), and the zucchini can work as a meat substitute if you're trying to stay strictly vegetarian. If you hate carrots, I highly recommend finely grating them and only adding a little: finely grated, they're barely noticeable in the sauce, and each time you make the recipe you can add a little more each time. Personally, I just use matchstick carrots from Publix, and they kind of taste like flavored noodles by the time they're done.
Keep the sauce simmering for anywhere from 45-90 minutes, either keeping the lid on the pot or periodically adding water. Once the veggies are cooked, cook out any undesired liquid until you reach the desired consistency. Noodles should be cooked about 10-15 minutes before the sauce is done.
Then voila! Top with as much parmesan cheese as you'd like (sometimes I like a nice cheddar cheese as well), and enjoy!
Image Credit » HalBLaurie