Winter Spaghetti Sauce


Driving home from work last night in the cold, snowy Ohio twilight, I started to crave spaghetti sauce. So I dug through the pantry and put together my version of my Mom’s marinara sauce.


Pantry ingredients (plus onion and garlic)

I think of this as a winter sauce because one, that’s really the only time I want to make it, and two, it can be made almost entirely with ingredients from the cupboards and freezer.

It always starts with a beef roast of some kind – I happened to have a pot roast in the freezer. I defrosted the roast a little in the microwave, salted and peppered it, then browned it with some olive oil in a big, heavy pot.


Roast and some chopped onions and garlic.

I removed the roast from the pan and turned down the heat. I added a bit more olive oil and the garlic (3 big cloves) and onion (1/2 a big onion) finely chopped.


I added a palmful of italian seasoning and let it saute until the onions were soft and translucent. At this point, you could add a slug of red wine to deglaze the pan, but I didn’t have any handy. (Amazing, right?)

I added two big cans of tomato sauce to deglaze, then added two cans of crushed tomatoes. I use whatever I have on hand – crushed, diced, Mom sometimes uses whole tomatoes and does a quick spin in the blender. Just depends on how smooth or chunky you want your sauce.

After the canned tomatoes, I added a couple tablespoons of tomato paste as well. I only recently found the tubes of tomato paste at the grocery store, and I love it! The cans felt so wasteful-especially when I only needed a small amount.

Atir everything up, add the roast back in, cover and simmer until it smells so good you have to dig in!


I had some whole wheat cheese tortilini in the fridge, so I cooked that up, and added a sprinkle of good parmesean cheese. Perfect cold weather meal!

Ooo, one tip – if you don’t like a lot of onions in your sauce, skip the chopped onions. Instead, take a whole white onion and add it to the sauce when you add the roast. When the sauce is ready, take the onion out. You get a subtle onion taste without the onion pieces!



Now, this makes a BIG pot of sauce. So I froze some, and I have some for lunch, but maybe I’ll do something different with the rest. Mom’s stuffed shells recipe is sounding pretty good right now…


6 thoughts on “Winter Spaghetti Sauce

  1. kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts

    Winter sauce sounds like such a great recipe name–it makes me think of slow-simmering pots on the stove and snowy days. I have an exceedingly silly question–the sauce looks so smooth in your photos–is the roast chopped up or shredded and added back into the sauce, or do you take it out like you would a whole onion?
    While I’m at it, I see that you are in Ohio, too. And I know Meghan of Clean Eats Fast Feets is in Ohio. And I’m in Dayton. And we all blog about cooking from our CSA. Is there any kind of Ohio Food Blogger group? If not, we should start one!

    1. Melissa Post author

      Thanks, Kirsten! I left the roast whole and just let it simmer in the sauce. To serve it, I just take it out and slice it (or pull it apart with a fork if it’s cooked long enough to fall apart).

      I don’t know if there’s an Ohio food blogger group, but that would be great! We’ll have to look into that. 🙂

  2. Carolyn Galizio

    Grandpa Galizio said not to put a whole onion into the sauce, but Grandma Galizio put it in behind his back. Right in front of my face, I might add! Then he said, “Fond, this is the best sauce you ever made!” and Grandma Galizio gave me a secret smile.” So onion it is!


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