Versatile Pasta Sauce

Spaghetti and meatballs on white plate with salad and a glass of wine

Spring officially started at my house a month or so ago.  It had nothing to do with the date, the slew of singing birds in the area, the baby bunnies the dog loves to chase, or the budding trees.  Spring at my house gets started with the first potted fresh herbs sitting on the patio table.

Unfortunately, they had to spend their first night in their new home hiding under the patio table since we had tornadoes in the area.  Tornadoes are more of a spectator sport in Oklahoma, but tender young plants don’t do so well in gusty winds, heavy rain, and hail.

It has been a chillier than normal spring and none of the herbs have done so well this spring.   Fresh basil and parsley are key ingredients for my lasagna and spaghetti sauce. At this point, it will be weeks (maybe months) before I can harvest enough of both for a huge pot of sauce.  I like to keep a healthy supply of sauce (and other things) in the freezer for quick meals on busy nights.  It helps break up the monotony of sandwiches. 

Until I can harvest from the back porch, I just buy fresh basil and parsley from the store.  It does not taste as good as what we grow in pots, but it is better than the dried stuff.

I have a couple of recipes for spaghetti sauce, but this one is the current favorite at our house.  This recipe was inspired by the sauce in this recipe.   This is also the same sauce I use for lasagna.

Eventually, I will post a recipe for my mom’s meat sauce, and another from a long-lost friend’s mom who was from Italy.  He also showed me how to make Garlic pasta the way his mom did.

This pasta sauce recipe makes a lot of sauce.  I make large batches since it freezes so well and can be used for so many things.



Versatile Pasta Meat Sauce

Sweet, red pasta sauce that is great for spaghetti, eggplant Parmesan, or lasagna. We even cook meatballs for subs in it.

  • Author: Beth Mueller
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 36 Servings
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Simmering
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 3 tablespoon Light Olive Oil
  • I large White Onion, diced small
  • 6 to 10 Garlic Cloves, minced finely
  • 3 pounds Ground Beef
  • 3 Pounds Italian Sausage
  • 3 12 ounces cans Tomato Paste
  • 2 28 ounce cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 28 ounce cans Tomato Sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper, optional
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Fennel Seeds
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parsley Leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh Basil Leaves, cut into strips


  1. In a dutch oven or very large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and sauted for a few minutes.
  2. In a separate skillet, brown hamburger and sausage. Drain excess liquid/fat. Place meat into pot with onions and garlic.
  3. Add tomato paste to pot. Mix to distribute.
  4. Add tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Mix well. Turn heat to medium, add pepper, sugar, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds. Stir frequently. Once sauce starts to simmer, reduce heat to low. Add fresh basil and parsley.
  5. Continue to simmer for 1 to 2 hours, continue stirring frequently.
  6. Serve over hot pasta of your choice.
  7. Leftovers freeze well.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 271
  • Sugar: 9.9 g
  • Sodium: 653 mg
  • Fat: 14.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.9 g
  • Fiber: 3.4 g
  • Protein: 21.8
  • Cholesterol: 66 mg

More Italian Inspired Recipes:


Tomato Bread

Thin Crust Pizza

Margherita Pizza

Minestrone Soup

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