Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comforting Spaghetti Sauce

I recently read that comfort food will be one of the food trends for 2009. Isn't comfort food always popular? Anyway, this got me thinking about food I loved growing up. I vividly recall coming home from school famished and snacking on a big bowl of "spaghetti sauce" that Mom had prepared for supper. In our house, we didn't talk about "pasta", it was always spaghetti. And spaghetti sauce meant a thick tomato sauce with ground beef.

My vegan version is a chunky red sauce of thinly sliced mushrooms with red wine, fresh rosemary, and crushed red pepper. Gourmet gave me the idea of simmering the sauce with fresh rosemary sprigs that are removed after cooking. This is perfect for MD, who finds the texture of rosemary leaves somewhat prickly.

For me, today's comfort food still involves a good spaghetti sauce, but I do prefer it on pasta nowadays rather than straight up in a bowl. Give me a tumbler of Cabernet (the tumbler is how restaurants often served wine during a too long ago trip to Italy) and a good book, and I'm set to recover from a day that had me pondering, "What fresh hell is this?"

Comforting Spaghetti Sauce
Inspired by Gourmet
About 4 servings

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more to taste
16 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
14.5 ounces fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, and mushrooms. Saute for about 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Increase heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remove rosemary before serving. Serve with pasta of choice.


  1. Dorothy Parker is my idol! (Well, except for the untimely self-inflicted demise part; but the rest of it--yeah!). Also love this sauce--between the wine and the mushies, I'm sure it was entirely comforting. :)

  2. Ricki, I think she's great too! I'd love to have an evening with Dorothy, Nina Simone, and Gloria Steinem.

  3. I love snacking on warm spaghetti sauce, too! But for my palate, I would at least quadruple the crushed red pepper :P

  4. Thank you for the recipe! Spaghetti always reminds me of home. I just wish I liked tomato sauce more!

  5. Oh yummy recipe. I will tell my mom about this, she loves rosemary!

  6. Another Dorothy Parker fan! So brilliant!

    Yous sauce looks perfect. Yum!

  7. Lisa! i can't believe you used to eat pasta sauce out of a bowl! i used to do the SAME THING!!!!! my mother made her spaghetti sauce with ground beef, shredded pork, and sausage (makes me shudder thinking about it now). pasta sauce is total comfort food for me too & i can't wait to try your recipe! thank you!

  8. Yum! Our recipes actually look very similar...I love spaghetti sauce, it is so comforting. :)

  9. What fresh hell is this?

    One of my favourite quotes by one of my most favourite chicas! I just love Parker, and Simone & Gloria, and Eleanore Roosevelt, too! let's get this dinner party planned!

  10. Comfort rules! Sure, fancy pretentious gourmet dishes are pretty. But nothing beats a big warm plate of whatever food makes your soul happy. And in these tough crazy times, food (and shared family meals) may be the best way to get through. Trust me, I ate almost a half a pint of chocolate chip cookie dough Soy Delicious after the break-in on Wednesday night. Made me feel much better.

  11. Comfort food should always be in style. It's like "the little black dress"! :)

    The Portable Dorothy Parker is at the top of my list of books I want to read!

  12. Lisa -- this looks great! And perfect for my (ironically frozen over) hell...a broken furnace on the coldest day of the year! I hope that you're doing well and keeping warm.

  13. I love that you are reading Dorthy Parker. She wrote one of my fav poems - penelope. Great poet, great woman.

    Your sauce looks yummmmy. I too have reconnected with my long lost lover pasta - beautiful thing.

  14. Pasta sauce out of a bowl? That's me :D
    This sounds totally delicious.

  15. I agree, when were comfort foods ever out of style? Your spaghetti sauce recipe sounds ultra comforting...

  16. I loved reading that issue of Gourmet and all about the food trends. That spaghetti looks so comforting.


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