Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spaghetti Sauce:

Not Sketti Sauce

A good while back I watched an episode of Honey Boo Boo (don't judge) where the family made a rather interesting version of spaghetti sauce, affectionately referred to as "sketti". Based on what I was able to gather, the sauce is roughly 50% margarine and 50% ketchup. Any seasonings? Nope. Margarine and ketchup, only. Was it at least slowly simmered over a low heat to somehow hopefully and magically deepen or develop the flavors of the ketchup and margarine? Nope. Microwaved.   

(I'm not going to show you good people how to make sketti. So don't fret and stick with me here.)

Out of purely morbid curiosity, I made it. I know, I know, it's gross but I just had to find out. I knew it would be awful....but sometimes in life you just gotta make that call for yourself. It's like when your wife pulls some unidentified Tupperware container from the way, way back of the fridge with some leftover whatever, hailing from days of yore, and smells it. She recoils in disgust and says: "Ew!!! Gross!!! Here, smell this!!!". And you do. You know it's bad but you still smell it anyway. Why didn't you just learn vicariously from her obviously bad experience? After all, you did just witness her recoiling in disgust. Wasn't that enough? Apparently not.

So I made the sketti. Surprisingly, it wasn't what I was expecting at all, really. In fact, I was actually somewhat familiar with it. And it was exactly as it should be. It was surprisingly, yet logically, sweet and tangy. The richness of the margarine tones down the tang of ketchup and adds a certain undeniable balance that.......oh shut up, Justin! Nutshell? It reminds me of SpaghettiO's. Does it taste exactly like SpaghettiO's? No, but the first thought that came to my mind when I tasted it was that of those beloved little round O's from my childhood. I guess you could say it was "SpaghettiO-esque". That being said, there's a reason why I don't eat O's anymore: they taste like sketti. Learn vicariously my friends, don't try this at home.

What I have for you today is my own version of spaghetti sauce. Or pasta sauce, if you will. I know that's kind of a generic term that can mean a million things. But for me, growing up, spaghetti sauce was always synonymous with marinara. It was something that was always in the "mix" for an easy weekly dinner. And this goes back to before I can remember. For me, it's one of those comfort-type foods that is easy to make and it will usually please pretty much anyone.

I prefer my sauce kinda chunky. So I leave the veggies a little bit larger so they provide something to bite into when you get a taste. Not huge chunks but significant enough to create an identifiable bite. I love to bite down on that odd piece of bell pepper mixed in the sauce and think to myself: Damn! That bell pepper is amazing.

Hint: We put this over stuffed cheese manicotti tonight and it rocked.    

Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce


  • 3 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained 
  • 2/3 small can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves


1. In a large dutch oven or pot, over a medium high heat, combine the first 10 ingredients (up to and including the bay leaves). Bring ingredients to a simmer, then reduce heat to low to maintain simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

2. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over a medium high heat. Add in the bell peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes. Then add the shallots and continue to saute for about 2 more minutes. Finally, add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. 

3. Now add your sauteed veggies to the pot with the sauce. At this point taste and adjust your salt and pepper if necessary.  Let simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

4. Serve over pasta of your choice.

Servings: 6

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