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Can one prepare a tasty spaghetti sauce/gravy without meat

I'm craving a bowl of macaroni but don't have the time to cook the "meats" that gives the sauce that flavor?

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  1. Sautee a medley of fresh mushrooms, onions and garlic.......chopped or thinly sliced....add sauce, puree or crushed tomatoes and simmer for 45 minutes.

    9 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      My thoughts exactly on the mushrooms-adds umami.

      1. re: monavano

        Another sneaky trick is to add a bit of fennel seed, since it's a flavor that is closely associated with Italian sausage.

        1. re: katecm

          That's a fantastic idea-must make mental note!

          1. re: monavano

            I started doing that too, I crush them first so they're not noticable.

          2. re: katecm

            I don't add fennel but do add anise seed. Love what the smallest amount adds. It's a trick I learned from my "fabulous" auntie Glo that frequented a very famous Italian Ristorante in Santa Monica for many years........ She had a little too much wine one night and asked their secret for the superb gravy...............their answer " anise seeds .. Shuuh"

            1. re: iL Divo

              I thought fennel and anise are the same. No?

              1. re: c oliver

                No...they are in the same flavor family (licorice-like) -- but are not the same creature. Fennel is generally a much lighter flavor.

                I adore fennel and will eat it raw or cooked, but anise makes me gag.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Seems like I'm constantly learning new things on CH. This Wiki citation has good info.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anise

                  Thanks.

        2. re: fourunder

          Skip the onions and garlic, and use shallots instead. Mushrooms (especially dried porcini, chanterelles or morels) and shallots make a great base.

          1. Absolutely you can. Mrs. go-to spaghetti is meatless. She sautees onion and occasionally some garlic in olive oil until soft, adds canned San Marzanos with their liquid, adds some salt, and lets them go as long as is tolerable. The whole mix gets pureed and dressed with lots of hard cheese (parmesan/romano). Not sure if skipping the meat is actually a time-saver, but it can readily be done.

            3 Replies
            1. re: gilintx

              add a beef bouillon cube or two...(but don't add any other salt!) -- gives you a meaty flavor without the meat. (just let it dissolve in the sauce; don't add it dissolved in water.)

              1. re: sunshine842

                I often add anchovies or worcestshire sauce to marinara to give it a little body. It's not the same as meat sauce, but it makes a fine meal.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  Bov-ril or Maggi or Bouquet Kitchen Garni is good too.

              2. A really basic marinara sauce is quite servicable as a quick tomato sauce for spaghetti or indeed any other macaroni.

                Fry some chopped garlic in olive oil till golden. Add a can of tomatoes, either "kitchen ready" or chopped. Season with salt & pepper and either dried oregano or dried basil...or both. If you have fresh herbs they're best added at the end. Simmer for about 20 minutes - or till the pasta is cooked. Toss the drained pasta into the sauce and there you are...Dinner. Don't forget the freshly grated Parmigiano or Pecorino.

                1. DH makes the sauce in our house (just had some last night). To the tomato sauce, there is also diced onion, diced red, green yellow and orange peppers, mushrooms, olives, fresh basil, garlic and italian spices. He also adds italian sausage and ground beef, but you can omit those. It makes a nice hearty sauce. Sometimes there is also a can of peeled, diced tomatoes so it has a more chunky sauce. I agree about a medley of mushrooms as well. Some are sliced, some are whole buttons, etc. Use whatever you find at your local market.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: boyzoma

                    This is pretty close to what I had for lunch today except only green peppers and a healthy shake of crushed red peppers flakes.

                    1. re: southernitalian

                      You can also use this basic recipe and add chicken instead of beef/sausage and serve over wide egg noodles. Yummy. And to spice it up, add a little cajun seasoning.