The way to my heart is through a huge helping of meaty spaghetti sauce. Having grown up Italian in the Bay Area, spaghetti is something my mom made all the time; to this day I still ask her to make it every time she invites me to dinner. It's my idea of the world's most comforting food: all carbs and meat, with some salty parmesan scattered over the top. Heaven.
This particular spaghetti sauce isn't my mom's recipe, though. It's a recipe developed entirely by my boyfriend—an impressive feat considering he hasn't been cooking all that long. He created this sauce as a way to treat me to something special, something that comforts me like almost nothing else.
The sauce is perfectly tangy, with the addition of lemon juice and red wine vinegar providing bright, bouncy notes of flavor, followed up by a salty layer of capers that brings the whole thing home. And don't even get me started on the beefy richness...I may drift off into a lazy, hazy food coma just thinking about it, with that luxurious smile I've been known to sport after the boy cooks me dinner.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoons)
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 2 sprigs fresh marjoram leaves, chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand or in a food mill
- 1 (3 ounce) can tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons capers
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound pasta
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until gently browned, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1. Add the ground chuck and break up into chunks. Cook until no pink color remains, about 8 minutes.
Add the chopped rosemary, thyme, and marjoram, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, capers, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the bay leaf, bring to a simmer, and lower the heat to very low. Cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from burning. If the liquid from your sauce evaporates too quickly, add a little hot water to keep it from burning.
When ready to serve, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to box instructions. Toss pasta with sauce and serve with grated parmesan.
One large heavy-bottomed saucepan