There was a point in my life where all I could make was spaghetti.
Well, not just spaghetti. Pasta of all kinds. I tossed Rotini with sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto for a quick pasta salad. I served angel hair with shrimp, topped with parsley and a garlicky butter sauce. I pulled Ravioli from the freezer and dumped marinara sauce on top of it. And if I were ever at a loss as to what I should cook for dinner, I had my old standby- spaghetti and meatballs. Then one day, my husband came home from work and said, “Can we go out to eat tonight? Your food is good, but I’m kind of tired of eating pasta all the time.” I mean, some nerve!
It was our first year of marriage and I didn’t have a lot of skills in the kitchen. My mom tried to teach me when I was younger, but I was too busy playing Super Nintendo with my brothers to really give a care. Also, Pop-Tarts and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were easily attainable. (Our pantry was stocked with the goods.) Then I turned 18 and I got my first full-time job at Ross Dress for Less. The Richardson Square Mall food court catered a lot of my meals at that time. I had a plethora of international cuisine at my fingertips. Sbarro’s Pizza, Panda Express, some barbecue joint… Wendy’s… Subway… That one smoothie place with the cute guy behind the counter who had a crush on one of my best friends. (I scored SO MANY free smoothies because of this). I dined out a lot, basically is what I’m saying. So when I got married at the age of 23- still working full-time- my cooking skills were non-existent.
When I first started experimenting in the kitchen, the first thing I learned was that pasta- pasta is easy! It is so freaking easy. Most of the time, there’s a recipe right there on the stupid box. Just boil your pasta, dump in your sauce, put whatever else in there, and you’re good to go. Plus, my husband could boast to all of his friends and co-workers, “I married this Italian girl and she makes… the best pasta.” I mean, I don’t know if it was the best, but I was feeling pretty confident at the time, so I’ll just assume that it was.
Given my extensive pasta repertoire, it may surprise you that this is not my pasta recipe. It is in fact my husband’s pasta recipe. That’s right! The guy who was totally throwing shade at my pasta over nine years ago has created his own recipe. For pasta! What, does he think he’s better than me?
Okay fine, it’s true- this sauce is better than anything I’ve ever created in all of my years of pasta making (and there were a lot). Small disclaimer: this sauce has to simmer for 3 hours, and it will be a tortuous 3 hours. The smell of garlic and basil and oregano wafting through the kitchen and you, not allowed to eat it until it’s done! But! 3 hours! That leaves a lot of time for playing Super Mario Bros. on the ol’ Super Nintendo machine. You know, if you’re still into that sort of thing.
- FOR THE SAUCE:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb ground turkey
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1½ teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 (15 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic
- 3 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1 box (or 16 oz) whole-wheat spaghetti
- In a medium-sized pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil at medium-high.
- Add 1 lb ground turkey, crumbling the meat as you cook.
- As it's cooking, add ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1½ teaspoons oregano, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon garlic salt. Cook until meat is browned and thoroughly cooked. Set aside to cool.
- In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Making sure the garlic doesn't burn, quickly add your canned tomatoes, basil, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and the cooked ground turkey. Bring to a low boil, then simmer on low heat for 1½ hours uncovered, giving it a stir every now and then.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for another 1½ hours.
- In the last few minutes of simmering, cook spaghetti according to package directions.
- Toss the pasta with your sauce, top with grated parmesan cheese serve. Enjoy!