For the Love of Garlic has a number of great spaghetti recipes and most families have their own favorites.
Mine was created by my wonderful Italian grandmother, Josie, who regularly treated me to her version, named here as a tribute to her and a reminder that even small children create words for that favorite meal!
All good cooks and chefs know the best dishes come from quality ingredients. The freshest tomatoes, the best ground meat, the tastiest Parmesan cheese, even the best water available, make all the components into a memorable melange of flavor and taste. If we are very lucky, on occasion, we can recreate this sensory memory and for a small period of time we can once again be where we first experienced the dish. For me, I was very young, front teeth missing,sun-blushed nose and cheeks, sitting on a familiar kitchen chair, devouring a heaping plate of steaming ‘basketti’ in my grandmother’s kitchen. She and my Swedish (crazy, huh) grandfather were trading stories and entertaining my sisters and I and that first taste was like a piece of heaven! Every component was there but they were all working together to create a new flavor entirely!! For me, that flavor will always be ‘Josie’s Basketti’, even though, yes, I know, it’s Spaghetti!!
2 lbs. lean ground chuck
1 large onion, medium dice
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
2-3 small bay leaves
3 TBS Italian seasoning or your personal blend of oregano, basil and thyme
4 cups tomato sauce (I used home made from fresh, but a good brand of canned is good too, although I would use one can tomato sauce and one can of diced tomatoes to get the same effect)
salt and pepper to taste
water if needed (use really good water, tap if you live in Colorado,bottled spring if you live anywhere else)
1 pkg. thin spagetti
fresh parmesian or romano cheese cut in curls and applied abundantly
In a deep skillet, brown onion, garlic, and meat in 2 Tbs. olive oil until well browned, then add mushrooms if desired. Add sauce, Italian seasoning and bay leaves and stir well. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour (in a hurry you can cook less but the flavors are compromised with shorter cooking, and if you have time, simmer it even longer and add water if it cooks down too much)
Cook spagetti pasta in salted water until desired doneness. Drain and serve on plate with topping of sauce and cheese. Serve with a healthy chunk of French bread and an abundance of fresh salad and enjoy! Maybe the best part is that the leftovers are even better. If there are any leftovers, combine pasta and sauce together and refrigerate or freeze. To reheat, add 1/4 c. water to a saucepan and add the spaghetti and reheat following the serving protocol as before.
A secret I learned from my husband; whoever gets the bay leaf, must kiss the cook!! So serve carefully!