I love pasta and at least every week or two spaghetti with tomato sauce shows up on our dinner table. My go-to tomato sauce is based on an old Cooks Illustrated recipe for Spaghetti Puttanesca from March & April 2002. Since Grandpa is a vegetarian, we don’t put meat in the sauce but the sauce usually does include vegetables such as peppers, mushrooms, or eggplant.
You can’t leave out the pasta, but the vegetables are more valuable to you. Over the years we have gradually used more sauce and less pasta. So I find that 12 ounces of pasta is plenty.
1 medium onion, diced
(1 bell pepper, seeded and diced)
(8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced)
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces spaghetti or linguine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 anchovies, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (Muir Glen)
½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped coarse
¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves
Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil in large Dutch oven or stockpot. When water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta; stir to separate pasta. Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain, then return pasta to pot.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add pepper if using and cook 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms if using and cook 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook one more minute, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add red pepper flakes, anchovies, tomatoes, and olives. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in parsley. Serve over pasta. If you are not a vegan, add grated Pecorino Romano cheese to top.
For carnivores, brown 1 pound of ground beef and drain on paper towels. Add to sauce at the end, before serving. Or keep the ground beef separate and let meat-eaters add it themselves to their bowls.
For extra protein, drain 1 pound of firm tofu and crumble into a bowl. Mix with 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix again. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350°F for 40 minutes. Add to sauce at the end, before serving. Only very suspicious people will ask, “What’s this?”