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View Full Version : How do you spice up spaghetti


Wesley Clark
09-26-2004, 09:57 PM
Aside from garlic bread and parmesan cheese what else do you do to make spaghetti taste better?

A trick I learned is to let all the water evaporate or be absorbed into the spaghetti instead of draining it. it takes longer to cook it (maybe 20 minutes) but the spaghetti is alot more full and has more flavor to it.

Meatballs made out of ground beef by hand are alot better than the mini-meatballs put in spaghetti sauces. So thats another way to improve spaghetti.

What else can a person do to spice up spaghetti? Are there some other spices, some other toppings, some other bread-esqe material to spread it on?

Laughing Lagomorph
09-26-2004, 10:14 PM
If you like hotness you could add pepper, black or red, to the sauce. Maybe some fresh basil leaves, or oregano.


Your description of letting it absorb all the water sounds like it would be way too soggy for me...have you tried cooking it al dente?

Qadgop the Mercotan
09-26-2004, 10:27 PM
Are you talking about the pasta or the sauce?

If the pasta, you can prepare it carbonara style, with a bacon, olive oil and parmesan topping. Or putanesca style, with a spicy tomato-anchovy-caper-pepper bite to it, or with a nice pesto sauce on it. The ways of topping your pasta are myriad.

If the sauce, then you've also millions of options.

We need a smaller target in order to advise you properly.

Magiver
09-26-2004, 10:38 PM
If you want something different:

My mom made her sauce with garlic, basil, and FENNEL. You have to cook it all day to work the fennel in unless you want to grind it up. Saute the garlic in a little olive oil and remove cloves, add 2 small cans of tomato paste, a large can of tomato puree (28 oz), 42 oz of water, 2 tbss basil, 2 teaspoons fennel. Cook the hell out of it.

when you make your meatballs with bread crumbs add some Parmesan cheese and cook it in the sauce.

Wesley Clark
09-26-2004, 11:32 PM
Are you talking about the pasta or the sauce?

If the pasta, you can prepare it carbonara style, with a bacon, olive oil and parmesan topping. Or putanesca style, with a spicy tomato-anchovy-caper-pepper bite to it, or with a nice pesto sauce on it. The ways of topping your pasta are myriad.

If the sauce, then you've also millions of options.

We need a smaller target in order to advise you properly.

either or.

Rhiannon8404
09-27-2004, 12:25 AM
One thing we do is we always use hot Italian sausage instead of plain ground beef.

AskNott
09-27-2004, 01:32 AM
Chop up some onion, bell pepper, and celery, and put it in the sauce. If you don't have time to let it simmer for a while, then saute those things in olive oil before you add the sauce. Get some oregano, basil, thyme, and chopped garlic, and add them to the sauce. I often add a few dashes of Frank's Red Hot Sauce, too.

This year, my little garden is blessed with rosemary, thyme, oregano, and chives, so all that goes, fresh, into the sauce, along with any fresh tomatoes. Canned diced tomatoes will do when there are no fresh ones. If there's chicken in the dish, I add tarragon.

pulykamell
09-27-2004, 03:53 AM
Aside from garlic bread and parmesan cheese what else do you do to make spaghetti taste better?

A trick I learned is to let all the water evaporate or be absorbed into the spaghetti instead of draining it. it takes longer to cook it (maybe 20 minutes) but the spaghetti is alot more full and has more flavor to it.

Meatballs made out of ground beef by hand are alot better than the mini-meatballs put in spaghetti sauces. So thats another way to improve spaghetti.

What else can a person do to spice up spaghetti? Are there some other spices, some other toppings, some other bread-esqe material to spread it on?

I would never let my pasta cook for 20 minutes. In my universe, it's al dente or nothing at all.

You can always add an olive/caper/anchovy tapinade & some red pepper flakes to plain tomato sauce to make a quick pasta putanesca.

Generally, the only things I add to my tomato sauce are fresh basil, dried red pepper flakes, and freshly grated parmesan or similar aged hard cheese. The stuff in the green container is not an acceptible substitute, unless you like cheesy flavored sawdust. Also fennel seed, as has been suggested, is very good.

I always make my sauce from scratch, with good quality olive oil (I like Frantoia),, freshly chopped garlic, fresh or canned Roma/plum tomatoes, and freshly chopped basil thrown in at the end. Note the key word: fresh. You really don't need to get fancier than this if you use high quality ingredients to start. If I want a slight meaty taste to it, I may also add some chopped slab bacon to the pan.

Testy
09-27-2004, 04:23 AM
Have you tried sauce made with clams? We make a butter sauce using a couple of cans of clams, a stick of butter, a can of crab meat, some fresh, chopped garlic and black pepper. Mix it together and cook it slowly for half an hour or so and then pour it over the pasta. Tastes good and is easy to cook.

If you are making spaghetti and meatballs you can add some ground pork to the beef. Some white wine in the sauce is also good.

Regards

Testy

Mangetout
09-27-2004, 06:22 AM
Sauces containing minced or ground meats willl typically be much tastier if they are simmered for a looooong time (several hours) - if you want to have semi-crisp pieces of vegetable, this is still possible - make the sauce with just the onions, garlic, meat, tomatoes and herbs, then add the finely diced vegetables half an hour before the end of cooking.

calm kiwi
09-27-2004, 09:15 AM
I have a spaghetti question and I apologise for the hijack. Is tinned spaghetti available in America?

Everytime I see spaghetti mentioned my first thought is of the tinned variety. It is widely available in Australia, Britain and NZ (and possibly other places?). It is over cooked, red sludge best served on toast, maybe with a bit of cheese or with eggs or bacon or ....well fried stuff really. It is the comfort food of childhood and in no way resembles anything vaguely Italian.

What Americans seem to call spaghetti is what I would call spag bog/bol. Meat sauce with spaghetti noodles.......is that right?

Is my assumption is right? Have Americans been robbed of spaghetti on toast? Sure it is no delicacy but it is yum in it's own weird way.

calm kiwi
09-27-2004, 09:18 AM
One thing we do is we always use hot Italian sausage instead of plain ground beef.


Oh! One more question (I wanted to ask this after a recent lasagne thread) when you say "sausage" is that an actual sausage sliced or is it sausage meat not in a casing?

Sorrrrrrrrry I won't hijack anymore but they were burning Q's and I really want to try some of the lasagne recipies.

Mangetout
09-27-2004, 09:20 AM
Yeah, looks like they have it (http://american-trading.com/food/cannedfoods.asp#pasta)

Ferret Herder
09-27-2004, 09:23 AM
I have a spaghetti question and I apologise for the hijack. Is tinned spaghetti available in America?
There are common varieties of spaghetti (in various forms) available in a can here, yes. Probably the most well-known is Spaghetti-O's, small rings of pasta in a bright red-orange sweetish sauce. You can get varieties of it with small slices of hot dog or (if I recall correctly) small meatballs. This is a popular "comfort food" with little kids, college students, and bachelors everywhere. :) There are also other pasta-and-sauce types available in cans - (regular long-strand) spaghetti with meatballs, ravioli, and so on.

calm kiwi
09-27-2004, 09:36 AM
Thank you Mangetout and Ferret Herder. Nice to see we all have the same 'bright red-orange sweetish sauce' with mush pasta-like stuff. :D

That's the first thing that pops into my mind when I see the word spaghetti and my mum is an awesome cook! The other kind will always be spag bog to me (or spag whatever). :)

overlyverbose
09-27-2004, 10:13 AM
If you want a nice, tangy sauce, you can always add a dash of balsamic vinegar. It sounds kinda gross, but it actually makes the sauce really good. Add some cracked red pepper flakes to that, along with the onions, garlic, and whatever else you want, and you're set.

And, calm kiwi, in answer to your question, I think a lot of people use sausage crumbles out of the casing rather than the sliced variety (at least that's what I use if I'm using sausage). But, anybody feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Ferret Herder
09-27-2004, 10:20 AM
I knew I was forgetting something - a column by Cecil (https://academicpursuits.us/classics/a2_036.html) about the most common brand of this canned/tinned spaghetti stuff in the US, Franco-American.

Magiver
09-27-2004, 12:51 PM
One thing we do is we always use hot Italian sausage instead of plain ground beef.

Not that you mention it, my mother did the same thing (in addition to meatballs),

Chefguy
09-27-2004, 01:11 PM
In addition to the great ideas already listed, you can go to the heavier extreme of cheese sauces. A bechamel sauce (http://abc.net.au/gondola/recipes/bechamel.htm) made with fresh Parmesan and a little ground nutmeg, with smoked salmon and dill mixed in is a heavenly artery-clogger.

One of my favorites is a simple variation on a putanesca-style sauce, and man is it good:

Chopped fresh tomatoes
Thinly sliced onion
Bacon, sliced julienne and browned in olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste
A bit of salt

Basil
Ground pepper

Brown the bacon, add the tomatoes and onion, the red pepper flakes and salt. Simmer covered for one hour. Add minced basil and ground pepper as garnish.

Chefguy
09-27-2004, 01:13 PM
Oops, should have said, "When the bacon is about 5 minutes from done, add the onions and saute until tender."

Who_me?
09-27-2004, 01:19 PM
And, calm kiwi, in answer to your question, I think a lot of people use sausage crumbles out of the casing rather than the sliced variety (at least that's what I use if I'm using sausage). But, anybody feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Personally, I detest meat sauce and only use meatballs (ground beef, pork, and veal), Italian sausage links, or do something like chicken or veal parmesan when I use meat with spaghetti. I usually just have spaghetti with a nice marinara when I use a tomato based sauce. What I use to spice the spaghetti up is spices... oregeno, basil, garlic, etc..., and I usually add at least a little extra virgin olive oil to the spaghetti before any sauce.

Most people I know, however, prefer meat sauce though.

Rhiannon8404
09-27-2004, 06:25 PM
And, calm kiwi, in answer to your question, I think a lot of people use sausage crumbles out of the casing rather than the sliced variety (at least that's what I use if I'm using sausage). But, anybody feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Yes, that's what I do. I cook the sausage like ground beef, drain it and put it in the sauce. It's really more of a meat sauce than meatballs. Although, I suppose you could make meat balls out of the sausage.

masonite
09-28-2004, 12:27 AM
Here's what I do: (I just made this up; no credentials whatsoever)

Brown some ground beef. Add canned psghetti sause (I use Classico). Add garlic thru a press, and red wine, and salt&pepper. Simmer forever; or until the pasta is done.

A very easy way to vastly improve on canned spaghetti sauce.

Atticus Finch
09-28-2004, 01:19 AM
For the love of God, Wesley, do not cook your pasta for 20 minutes! It's not meant to be soft and soggy. You know of the concept of al dente, right?
If not, here's a pasta primer:

Boil up the biggest pot of water you have, perhaps 3 or 4 litres of water for every 500g of pasta (a gallon per pound, I guess?). Add salt. Add the pasta when the water's boiling. Stir well and often, and make sure the pieces / strands are separated. Pull out a bit of pasta after a few minutes and bite into it. Different pastas take different times, so check the packet to get a rough idea. It's cooked when it's no longer crisp (ie not like a cracker, even in the middle), but still offers some resistance to your teeth. That's al dente. Drain it in a sieve / colander, then add the sauce and serve quickly to prevent it getting all dry and stuck together.

jnglmassiv
09-28-2004, 01:37 AM
Adapting to my adopted home, Milwaukee, I have made some great spaghetti sauce with bratwurst. It tastes really good with bottled marinara sauce. I slice one open, brown like ground beef, drain carefully (lottsa fat) and savor.

Usually, I'll have added salt, pepper, onions, some wine, canned mushrooms, chopped garlic, sometimes sugar, dried basil, and, when its done, hot giardineria and red pepper flakes.

Odinoneeye
09-28-2004, 08:38 AM
I start by cooking onions and green pepper in olive oil until just starting to turn tender. Then I add fresh garlic and italian sausage (usually ground up, but I have sliced it for a change of pace) Add sauce (yes, I use a jar, but there are some good ones out there) add chopped tomotoes (I like to use one fresh and one can. They have different flavors) fresh basil and oregano.

I'm not much for extra veggies in it, but my brother likes to add brocolli and cauliflour to his and a friend of mine swears by zuchinni, but personally, I find it too mushy.

Top with fresh parmesan cheese. (I also will not eat the shaker stuff. )

I might give that basalmic vinegar idea a try though. It sounds wonderful.

missbunny
09-28-2004, 11:42 AM
Pasta cooked for 20 minutes has got to be one of the most revolting items that could ever come out of a kitchen. Like eating soaking-wet bread. Ich.

As for sauce, try and find a recipe for a good Bolognese. That's "meat sauce" elevated to the stars.

Cowgirl Jules
09-28-2004, 11:54 AM
Pasta should be al dente. I can't imagine changing that.

But sauce, even from a jar, can be doctored all sorts of ways. I always add a can of tomato sauce to a jarred sauce, because otherwise, after I'm done doctoring, it will be impossibly thick. The tomato sauce brings it back to something fluid, not a solid.

I almost always brown sliced mushrooms seperately, and then throw them in towards the end of the sauce cooking.

I always add red wine and good extra virgin olive oil to the sauce. Sometimes a little balsamic vinegar too. I also always add fresh garlic.

I don't care for ground beef, but I do put sausage in fairly frequently. Bratwursts peeled out of their casings and browned like ground beef are good, or else hot italian sausage.

Shallots are good! Saute them a little first. Actually, garlic is the only thing that I'll let cook completely in the sauce. Everything else likes a little individual attention before it goes in.

Spices - fresh ground black pepper, oregano, or basil are my favorites.

Chefguy
09-28-2004, 01:23 PM
If you're buying jars of sauce and then adding a lot of extras to make it better, then you're wasting your money. Jars of Classico and the like are expensive ($2.50 to $3.50) compared to cans of diced tomatoes or tomato sauce ($.35-$.40 per 8 oz. can). Since you're going to completely change the flavor, why not buy the cheaper item (which, by the way, will contain no flavor enhancers or other chemical additives) and save yourself a bunch o' green?

Canned tomatoes, by the way, are generally superior to fresh tomatoes unless you've allowed your fresh tomatoes to 'go over the hill'. Canned tomatoes are made from over-ripe product, which is sweeter and more flavorful. They're also already peeled, which is important to the texture in tomato sauce.

lieu
09-28-2004, 01:28 PM
I too will add in some Owens Sausage - Italian with the ground beouf.

Also, top yer plate off with a dollop of real sour cream.

sturmhauke
09-28-2004, 02:34 PM
For meatballs, I like a 50/50 mixture of veal and pork with some breadcrumbs, egg, and whatever spices you want (I usually use garlic, basil, oregano, maybe a bit of sage and red pepper). After you form the meatballs, dredge them in flour and fry until brown all around. This will keep them from falling apart in the sauce and adds a nice flavor.

sj2
09-28-2004, 02:44 PM
Buy some of those frozen stuffed pastas-ravioli, tortellini, etc and boil that up.

Instead of tomato sauce, melt a pat of butter, add a Tbsp of Olive Oil and then some spices--I like salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and nutmeg. Yum. You can even use the poultry seasoning that's all mixed together -- great for folks on a budget who don't use a lot of spices in cooking. 2 TBSP of this mix is enough for a serving or 2. Sprinkle some cheese on top and eat, eat, eat.

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