I have blogged several times about making spaghetti sauce. I like it kind of chunky with bits of diced tomatoes an onion and mushrooms and maybe some squash or spinach thrown in for good measure. Today I had some sweet Italian peppers that I wanted to use, so I diced them up along with the onion and sautéed both in a pan with a dab of olive oil until the vegetables are soft. Then I scooped the pepper and onions into the blender added a can of Hunts spaghetti sauce and gave it a whirl. That incorporated the spiciness of the sweet Italian red peppers right into the sauce. I added another can of diced tomatoes, juice and all, plus a can of tomato paste, a pat of butter, and a scoop of sour cream to give the sauce some richness.
Next, I browned some Italian sausage in the pan, and then added water and let it sauté until the sausage was cooked all the way through. I slice the sausage into little circles and added it to the spaghetti sauce. I wiped out the pan, added a little bit more olive oil, and browned up the mushrooms, which were quartered, and added them to the sauce as well. Now I had a chunky, spicy sauce for our spaghetti tonight.
I would use this same basic sauce for my lasagne, only I would use ground beef for the meat component. I like to use cottage cheese mixed with parmesan cheese, basil and an egg instead of ricotta cheese, and add a layer of spinach on top of the mozzarella layers. If there is any spaghetti sauce leftover, we are having lasagne tomorrow!
Zippy Spaghetti Sauce
One sweet Italian red pepper, diced
One small yellow onion, diced
One package Italian sausage, mild or spicy
One package Baby Bella mushrooms, quartered
One can Hunts spaghetti sauce, 28 oz
One can diced tomatoes, undrained, 15 oz
One can tomato paste, 8 oz
One teaspoon butter
One tablespoon sour cream
Sauté red pepper and onion in olive oil in a skillet until soft. Put in blender and purée with the can of spaghetti sauce. Pour mixture into a large saucepan. Add the diced tomatoes and can of tomato paste and stir. Bring to a simmer, add a pat of butter and simmer on low.
Meanwhile, sauté sausage in skillet until it is browned on two sides, then add some water to the pan. Simmer with the lid on for about 10 minutes. Drain off water and slice sausage into 1/4 inch thick slices. Add to simmering spaghetti sauce. In the same skillet, sauté mushrooms in a little olive oil for 2-3 minutes, add to spaghetti sauce mixture. If you want the sauce to be a little creamy, add a tablespoon of sour cream and stir in. Serve over pasta or use for lasagne.