The title of this recipe is Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, but really it's great for any type of pasta. And like all great recipes, this one came to me by way of a friend. Our kids were hanging out playing at the park, and Megan (the friend from above), tells me about a delicious pasta sauce that was given to her by a friend named Lynn. Now, you know a recipe is gonna be good when it's coming from a friend of a friend of a friend. A bad recipe usually begins and ends with the user. But good ones float amongst friends like hot gossip. Not that any of y'all should be gossipping. Cause, ya know, gossip only leads to trouble. I ain't preachin', just sayin'. But it reminds me of one of the lines from one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias. Y'all know the one I'm talking 'bout, right? "Well, you know what they say: if you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me! " Oh Clairee - I just loved her character. Anyhow, I'm gettin' off track here. Back to the sauce. This sauce has a little secret ingredient up it's sleeve (like all good handed-down recipes). And it really is so delicious and comes out right every time!
1-2 pounds ground beef or sausage (see notes below)
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 tbsp. grape jelly
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2 tsp. dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
I'm using jarred garlic and pre-shredded Parmesan cheese. But if you have fresh garlic on hand and prefer to shred your own Parmesan cheese, please feel free to use that.
Now y'all might laugh, but I knew this recipe was going to be great when I saw there was grape jelly in it. Do y'all remember those Party Meatballs? The ones with the grape jelly in the sauce? I knew how good grape jelly could be as a secret ingredient. Now, obviously, you don't taste it as a separate ingredient. But most Italian cooks will tell you they put a pinch of sweetness in their sauces. Sometimes it's sugar or brown sugar. In this case, it's grape jelly!
In a large pot, brown and crumble ground beef along with the onions and green pepper. Season with salt & pepper.
Drain excess grease.
Put beef back into the pot. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste.
Give it all a good stir. Then add in grape jelly, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, Italian seasoning and dried basil.
Stir then cover and allow mixture to simmer gently for at least 30 minutes.
Or, you can put it all into a slow cooker and let it simmer on low for several hours.
This sauce really just gets better and better the longer it simmers.
And leftovers freeze beautifully. This makes quite a bit of sauce so it's good for a small crowd.
I have had these pasta plates since I got married. They were a wedding gift and we still love to use them!
Cook's Note: If you prefer more sauce than meat (like I do), then just use one pound of beef. If you like it really meaty then use two pounds of beef. The original recipe calls for sausage (one package hot, and one package sweet). You can also use ground turkey or pork. It is a very adaptable recipe. And, if you have it on hand, instead of the dried basil, the original recipe suggested using 12 leaves of fresh basil, cut into ribbons, and added in 5 minutes before serving.