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Spaghetti Sauce for Simple Pasta Dishes

Updated on September 15, 2014

The Simplest Spaghetti Pasta Dish in the World

How can something so simple taste so good?

One of the most popular foods that our whole family eats uses one of the simplest spaghetti sauces that goes hand in hand with the most common long spaghetti to create a very simple pasta dish. The original recipe was passed down through the generations from my Italian great grandmother.

Now I have to be honest, the final recipe has evolved to suit modern day living and the quest for healthy eating that can also be eaten as a vegetarian dish . But as with all great recipes it remains very simple and straight forward to cook, costs virtually nothing and not only the adults love it but so do all the kids. This really is a recipe for the whole family that is quick and easy to make but still tastes delicious despite the transition to more modern cooking methods and tastes.

Great grandma in 1959 outside Belmonte in Newtonmore, Scotland
Great grandma in 1959 outside Belmonte in Newtonmore, Scotland

The Original Recipe for a Simple Pasta Dish

The original recipe for my simple pasta dish came from my great grandmother who settled in Lossiemouth in Scotland with my great grandfather their surname was Rizza and they came from a place called Belmonte Castello in Italy, about 120km south east of Rome. I only actually know this because my grandmother's house in Newtonmore in Scotland was named Belmonte after her birthplace.

My great grandmother and grandfather ran a confectioners and tearoom, first in Inverness and then in Lossiemouth and my grandfather had his own ice cream making parlor at the back of the shop in Lossiemouth where he used to make the most wonderful Italian ice cream. So good in fact that family folklore reports that Prince Charles used to visit as a child to get his perfect Italian ice cream from the shop.

I can't give you the full details of this recipe because I was never actually witness to it ever being cooked, but my mother told me that the basis of the sauce came from cooking a roast beef dinner. The beef was cooked in a roasting tin that had seen a splash of olive oil and then had a layer of tomato puree added. The beef was then roasted in the puree and the juices from the joint mingled with the tomato puree to give it a lovely beefy flavour.

Once cooked the beef was used for the main meal of the day and the tomato puree, now fused with all the flavor and juices from the beef, was saved for a simple pasta dish. Needless to say being a true Italian my great grandmother used to make her own spaghetti to go with the tomato puree, I don't imagine it was that easy to get hold of in Scotland back in those days anyway. Once the pasta was cooked it was simply a case of heating the sauce and adding it to the pasta. The two were stirred together so that the sauce coated the pasta ready for serving. A little Parmesan cheese lightly grated on top and hey presto a perfect pasta dish with a gorgeous spaghetti sauce for virtually no effort at all.

Even my mother modified this technique slightly, instead of cooking the beef in the puree she would simply save the beef fat from the roast and add it to the tomato puree later. She just used to pop the beef fat into a pan, add the tomato puree and heat it through to make the sauce. There were no added ingredients, no herbs or spices, the flavour came solely from the juices that came out of the beef.

When the sauce was ready, the same way of serving the spaghetti was adopted, only by now the spaghetti was the purchased variety available on all the supermarket shelves. Bit of a shame really.

We loved it all the same, just a really simple but tasty meal of pasta.

The Vegetarian Version of Spaghetti Sauce

The general grocer's shop in Lossiemouth - wonder if Prince Charles remembers it?
The general grocer's shop in Lossiemouth - wonder if Prince Charles remembers it?

So here we go then for the modern day equivalent of great grandmother's spaghetti sauce and the basis of her very simple pasta dish. This one is definitely suitable for a vegetarian meal.

Preparing the Spaghetti Sauce

Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and warm with a gentle heat. Add tomato puree concentrate sufficient for the amount of spaghetti to be cooked.

To mix the olive oil and tomato puree just add a drop of boiling water to bring the mix together for a nice creamy textured spaghetti sauce. Crush one or two garlic cloves and add to the sauce according to taste and season with oregano and black pepper. Simmer very gently for about 10 minutes.


  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves
  • Tomato puree concentrate
  • Oregano
  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Basil, (optional)

Preparing the Spaghetti Sauce

  1. Put 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and warm with a gentle heat. Add tomato puree concentrate sufficient for the amount of spaghetti to be cooked.
  2. To mix the olive oil and tomato puree just add a drop of boiling water to bring the mix together for a nice creamy textured spaghetti sauce.
  3. Crush one or two garlic cloves and add to the sauce according to taste and season with oregano and black pepper.
  4. Simmer very gently for about 10 minutes.
  5. Bring a pan of salted water to boil and add your spaghetti, make sure that the spaghetti does not stick together by stirring with a fork. Simmer for around 10 minutes or until the spaghetti is cooked and make very sure it is not overcooked. You can do this by lifting a small piece out of the pan and tasting it, you should aim to catch the spaghetti just after it has gone from the brittle state it was in when you first got it out of the packet to a soft just cooked condition. If you leave it in too long it will swell and become too soft.
  6. Once cooked strain off the water and return the spaghetti to the pan. Pour in your tomato spaghetti sauce and stir the two together to coat your spaghetti completely with the tomato sauce. If you like it really saucy, you can keep a little back to add to the top of the spaghetti when serving.
  7. Its best to serve the spaghetti in a dish which you have warmed in the oven to about 100 C. You can add a light sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, perhaps adding a little basil to garnish.

Preparing the Spaghetti

The whole meal will only take about 15 minutes to prepare and is one of the most fabulous and simple pasta dishes you will find. Kids just love it and the parents to.

The sauce works just as well with all the different pasta types, lasagna probably being the only exception, and you can experiment with the spaghetti sauce as well. Adding finely chopped onions and mushrooms really works well as does chopped black olives. You can in fact develop a sauce to become your own favorite family pasta dish using this as the base. But be careful you don't alienate the kids, they seem to like it in its simplest form and if you start getting too fancy, you might just find that they will then refuse to eat it.

Anyway give it a go, its simple, quick and very tasty. Enjoy.

Italian Immigrant Cooking

Italian Immigrant Cooking
Italian Immigrant Cooking

A great place to find a simple pasta dish or spaghetti sauce.


Pasta Products on Amazon - Can't find what you want, then use search

Spaghetti sauce, not quite like great grandma used to make but pretty darn good all the same.

Do you love this simple spaghetti sauce?

Cast your vote for Spaghetti Sauce

Let us know about your favorite simple pasta dish

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    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 3 years ago from France

      @paulahite: Many thanks Paula, it is very nice to be featured on Google+ and I have dropped by to say hello there as well.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 3 years ago from France

      @Merrci: Thanks Merrci, what they say about the simplest things sometimes being the best can very often be true. Kids absolutely love this spaghetti meal as well, my grandson, now grown up and living with his mates, got in touch and asked for this recipe a few weeks ago. He said he loves it and now he has to cook for himself he wanted to know how to do it. :-)

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I love any nearly any sauce with pasta, but this looks particularly good and easy too. It was so enjoyable reading about your Italian ancestors in Scotland, and seeing the photos. Sweet! thanks for sharing this.

    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      Beautiful! It's been featured on our Google+ page today. Come and check it out!

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 5 years ago from France

      @Lady Lorelei: We use olive oil a lot, in fact in nearly all our cooking that requires oil, and the results always seem pretty good. That spaghetti dish is actually delicious and the added bonus is that kids absolutely love it in its simplest form; which makes for a very nice, healthy meal and happy kids. Thanks for dropping by an leaving a comment.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Simple and sweet truly the best combination for a great recipe. I like that you use olive oil in your cooking. Very heart healthy.

    • profile image

      jenny-archer-9 5 years ago

      Just love food with abundant flavour and depth,so many foods/sauces today are tasteless as are some of my friends' gravy...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Love your lens.

    • texan203 lm profile image

      texan203 lm 5 years ago

      Great lens. Congratulations on becoming a giant squid

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 5 years ago from France

      @Dressage Husband: Thanks for the congrats.

      No seasoning whatsoever according to my mum. I was astonished to find out but they really did just rely on the beef flavouring.

    • profile image

      einsteinmoomjy 5 years ago

      The old photos are great! I'll have to try the recipe.

    • montanatravel52 profile image

      montanatravel52 5 years ago

      Can't wait to try, I know my kids are going to love it already! Congrats on becoming a Giant Squid, well-deserved!

    • Vortrek Grafix profile image

      Vortrek Grafix 5 years ago

      We love pasta, especially healthy whole wheat spaghetti, and typically make the sauce from scratch. We use various ingredients, usually seafood and sometimes add wine. The base ingredients we prefer are peeled tomatoes, plenty of olive oil, garlic, Italian herbs, and spices (we prefer an Asian chili paste called Sambal). It's easy to make but it does take a bit of time when you do it from scratch.

    • profile image

      DebMartin 5 years ago

      Thanks to your great grandmother. I like your mother's idea of keeping the beef fat in the recipe. I'll try it. And one of these days I'll make my own pasta. How hard can it be, eh? Thanks, d

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 5 years ago from Keller, Texas

      My favorite way to eat spaghetti in the summer is to saute fresh veggies from our garden in a little olive oil and butter and spread it over the top. You cannot beat the fresh taste.

    • profile image

      ikepius 5 years ago

      As someone who loves spagetti and used to eat it as a staple, I find this lens very catchy. Great lens!

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 5 years ago

      I had a spaghetti dish with some sort of garlic butter sauce in Italy. You couldnt even see the sauce but it tasted amazing! But this looks fab too!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

      Congratulations BrianS on your new Giant Squid status!!!

    • profile image

      vexashop 5 years ago

      yummy! :)

    • shahedashaikh profile image

      shahedashaikh 5 years ago

      My little one just loves pasta.Congrats on being a Giant squid.

    • EthanPerry LM profile image

      EthanPerry LM 5 years ago

      love it!

    • cyberflutist profile image

      cyberflutist 5 years ago

      This sounds delicious and simple, too. You can probably never go back to eating sauce from a can after making this sauce!

    • weakbond profile image

      Nnadi bonaventure Chima 5 years ago from Johanesburg

      I love spaghetti and this recipe is an award winner

    • CoeGurl profile image

      CoeGurl 5 years ago from USA

      Yummy! I'm going to make this for certain.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Oh but your spaghetti pasta dish does indeed look delicious. A huge congratulations on your advancement up on Squidoo. Welcome to the land of Giants.

    • SarahB709 profile image

      SarahB709 5 years ago

      I love this lens! The family connection you write about makes the recipe come to life and guess what we're having for dinner tonight? Great lens . . .

    • Smashbooks LM profile image

      Smashbooks LM 5 years ago

      Nice--much simpler than our version! Will have to try it.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I find it interesting just how simple the recipe was initially. Would they have added oregano and garlic (which is often inserted into the joint) when they cooked the beef, as is common Italian practice, or just the tomato paste?

      Congratulations on being made a new Giant Squid!

    • profile image

      Edviz99 5 years ago

      I love pasta.

    • artdivision1 lm profile image

      artdivision1 lm 5 years ago

      Lemon, Garlic, Basil and Parmesan is my favourite

    • bezabeza profile image

      bezabeza 5 years ago

      Yess I knew it! I have been doing something similar to this for years and it's always my favourite pasta sauce! I always feel like I should be putting at least onions in but it's never as nice... So all this time I was doing it the proper Italian way. Thanks this is a lovely lense :)

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 5 years ago

      congratulations on becoming a Giant...

    • eTravelSense profile image

      eTravelSense 5 years ago

      Prawn linguine, my friend does the best!

    • rihamah lm profile image

      rihamah lm 5 years ago

      great recipe, I'll try it. thanks for sharing

    • summermote profile image

      summermote 5 years ago from Scottsdale, AZ

      Ahhh - i was just too late. I made spaghetti tonight and I am SURE it was not as good as yours. Well, i will be sure to use your recipe next time. Thank you!!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My husband has a white sauce with many chopped veggies for a more healthy pasta.

    • IncomeFromHomeT profile image

      IncomeFromHomeT 5 years ago

      My Nana would toss all sorts of things in her pot of gravy (sauce to you folks!)-- bits of greens out of the garden, sometimes leftover chicken or fish, and often a bit of cream from off the top of the glass milk bottle. The results were always delicious and always Nana's but never tasted exactly the same way twice! My Nana was born in the Piedmont.

    • Jack2205 profile image

      Jack 5 years ago

      Pasta is the best food.

    • Ahdilarum profile image

      Ahdilarum 5 years ago

      looks yummy and tasty recipe of pasta

    • thegrayrabbit profile image

      thegrayrabbit 5 years ago

      One of the most simple ones is a pomodoro. Toss your favorite pasta with olive oil, fresh tomatoes (diced), chiffanade of basil, and parmesean cheese shreds. Garnish with cracked black pepper. Light and has lots of flavor.

    • HalloweenRecipes profile image

      HalloweenRecipes 5 years ago

      Congratulations on LoTD! I'll have to try your Grandma's sauce recipe.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I think this is one of the best lenses I've read. I love the pictures, but I eat pasta every other day of the week so I love the simplicity of the sauce.

    • profile image

      einsteinmoomjy 5 years ago

      Now I'm hungry. Great article and pics.

    • BunnyFabulous profile image

      BunnyFabulous 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I love the story behind your sauce recipe. Thanks for sharing and congrats on becoming a Giant Squid!

    • profile image

      HopeLabel 5 years ago

      I love pasta with any kind of red sauce... yum!

    • dragonlildragon profile image

      dragonlildragon 5 years ago

      great lens and very great recipe.

    • CreativeExpress profile image

      CreativeExpress 5 years ago

      Great lens! I'm going give this a try. Loved the story regarding the family history behind the recipe.

    • Art Inspired profile image

      Art Inspired 5 years ago

      Great story! Make it a great day!

    • JBradshaw profile image

      JBradshaw 5 years ago

      I'm hungry now. Thanks

    • techmom profile image

      techmom 5 years ago

      Looks delicious and easy! I usually just use jarred pasta sauces, but this will probably taste better.

    • PickupTrucksFan1 profile image

      PickupTrucksFan1 5 years ago

      The sauce would work great over spaghetti squash as well. Let's eat!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Coincidentally, tonight I'm making spaghetti with red sauce and Italian sausage. Very cool lens.

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 5 years ago from Sweden

      I love pasta in all shapes and sizes!

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 5 years ago

      I love things that are this simple to make. Thanks for sharing.

    • bikerministry profile image

      bikerministry 5 years ago

      I made spaghetti just the other day, made the meatballs in the oven, (ground turkey) and realized all I had was Rotelle, pizza sauce and tomato sauce, but after combining adding ground turkey and onion, and lots of Italian spice, it was one of my better creations. Should've looked for a Squidoo recipe!! Blessings.

    • profile image

      bossypants 5 years ago

      What a wonderful family photo! It's delightful to know the story behind this delicious and simple meal. Thank you for sharing a family heirloom!

    • abarth76 lm profile image

      abarth76 lm 5 years ago

      Looks delicious, will give it a bash.

    • malena10 profile image

      malena10 5 years ago

      I love spaghetti with meat and vegetable sauce

    • PaulWinter profile image

      PaulWinter 5 years ago

      I love pasta dishes.

    • profile image

      mumsgather 5 years ago

      Yes, I love it. It's so simple to make.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 5 years ago

      This is close to what I also make. Simple but so good.

    • profile image

      antoniow 5 years ago

      Great lens, nicely done! Thumbs up

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Sounds pretty tasty to me - thanks for sharing!

    • blogvicar lm profile image

      blogvicar lm 6 years ago

      Certainly doesn't get any simpler than that. I like the idea of the original recipe, sure to be full of flavour preparing the sauce around a beef joint.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Simply wonderful! What great tips you just adding a little water to mix the oil and sauce together and that gentle simmering, sweet!

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from France

      @alexrizza: I am afraid I am away for a few days now, back on Friday. We can talk then if you like.

    • profile image

      alexrizza 7 years ago

      Belmonte Castello and arrived originally in this country around 1908!! As with all things Italian it takes food to get us talking. I would really like to know how you are getting on with your family history. Don't mind sharing some info to see if we can join up some family members!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      We are also looking into our family history (Rizza family) and the family also come from Belmonte Castello and arrived originally in this country around 1908!! As with all things Italian it takes food to get us talking. I would really like to know how you are getting on with your family history. Don't mind sharing some info to see if we can join up some family members!!

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from France

      @anonymous: Hi Bernard, it certainly sounds like there is a connection, a few too many coincidences there. My aunty has been researching the family history and could confirm all that information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Not sure if you got my comment re the Rizza family

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hi, I was searching for info about my Grandfather who was called Bernardo Rizza and came from Belmonte Castello his father being called Giovanni Batista Rizza and came across this.

      My grandfather had a link with Scotland having married Kathleen (my grandmother) before moving to Manchester. He came to the UK at the end of the last century.Maybe there is some connection. Would be pleased to hear of any info you have about the Rizza family. Regards Bernard

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

      I love the old images in this article. They add that little extra special touch.

    • jolielaide75 profile image

      jolielaide75 7 years ago

      This lens is simple yet very good! I love the story that goes along with the recipe!

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      Blesse by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      kirstyrebecca 7 years ago

      I tried this recipe with a little bit of chopped chiles added from a jar and it was delicious, especially when I added a bit of grated cheese on the top. It only took me about 10 minutes to make it so brilliant for a quick cheap and tasty meal. Thanks for sharing.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      A good sauce can make any pasta taste great. Arguably it's much more important than the sauce. My favorite simple pasta dish is probably spaghetti with homemade marinara. Easy to make and always tastes good.

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 7 years ago from France

      @WindyWintersHubs: Simple pasta dishes are a great choice for the whole family, in fact the simpler they are then often the more popular they are. So you can see why they are a favorite in many households.

      Thanks for the comment.

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 7 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Spaghetti is always a favorite dish in our house. I enjoyed reading about the way your great-grandmother prepared this dish generations ago. :)

    • profile image

      Weblady 7 years ago

      The simplest meals are often the best, especially where children are involved. Sounds delicious.