Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti with my father’s thick, “meaty” tomato sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce

Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Servings 1 (each preparation makes 5 cups)


Ingredients by volume:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6 oz canned sliced mushrooms
  • 4 oz canned sliced olives
  • 12 oz vegan “beef” crumbles (eg. Smart Ground)
  • 24 oz pasta sauce (eg. Classico Tomato and Basil)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • .5 tbsp agave (or as much as 2 tbsp, for a sweeter sauce)
  • 1 tsp malt vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • .5 tsp dried oregano
  • .5 tsp ground black pepper
  • .5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp any spice of choice (you choose! seriously, almost anything will work)
  • .25 cup cooking alcohol
  • 1 lb spaghetti (or other pasta)

Ingredients by weight:

  • 15 g garlic
  • 170 g canned sliced mushrooms
  • 110 g canned sliced olives
  • 340 g vegan “beef” crumbles (eg. Smart Ground)
  • 680 g pasta sauce (eg. Classico Tomato and Basil)
  • 170 g tomato paste
  • 10 g agave (or as much as 40 g, for a sweeter sauce)
  • 4.9 g malt vinegar
  • 3.8 g ground mustard
  • 2.6 g ground cinnamon
  • 2.3 g ground nutmeg
  • .3 g dried oregano
  • 1.2 g ground black pepper
  • 1 g ground ginger
  • .4 g any spice of choice (you choose! seriously, almost anything will work - use .4 g per preparation if a dried leaf spice; 2 g per preparation if a ground spice)
  • 60 g cooking alcohol
  • 450 g spaghetti (or other pasta)


  • Mince the garlic or prepare it for pressing.
  • Drain the mushrooms and the olives of their juices.
  • Start the water for the spaghetti.
  • Combine the “beef” crumbles and pasta sauce over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sauce is either simmering or spits at you when you stir it.
  • Stir deeply and often while adding the tomato paste, agave, mushrooms, olives, garlic, malt vinegar, and spices (mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, black pepper, ginger, and spice of choice). Feel free to reach blindly for the spice rack to choose the last spice - I've had success with flavors as broad-ranging as thyme, smoked paprika, cumin, garam masala, and basil.
  • Test the sauce and adjust the flavor to taste - add agave to make it sweeter, black pepper to make it spicier, vinegar it make it zingier. Once you have the flavor mix you want, add the cooking alcohol.
  • Keep the sauce on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the alcohol evaporates (as indicated by it ceasing to taste alcoholic) - approximately 15-20 minutes.
  • While the sauce is sobering up, cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the box.