We used to call this spaghetti Mom’s Spaghetti, but over the years it has been lovingly renamed Grandma’s Spaghetti by my sons. Bob’s mom, Ann, did not have a large cooking repertoire, but what she did have was marvelous, with some delicious gems like peach dumplings and homemade fried corn tortillas for taco night.
When Bob and I were engaged, Ann shared her spaghetti sauce recipe in a Cordes family cookbook that was given to me at my wedding shower. This hearty, homey spaghetti has been warming our bellies ever since.
This is total comfort food. A simple sauce is made with ground beef, mushrooms, onions, garlic, oregano and tomatoes. It is incredibly satisfying and easy to make for a weeknight dinner. In fact, I usually double the sauce to have leftovers for lunches. And we always serve it with elbow macaroni, just as Ann did when Bob was growing up (she said feeding three kids long spaghetti noodles was just a mess). When the answer to, “What’s for dinner?” is answered with “Grandma’s Spaghetti!” then all of my boys are happy.
I miss my mother-in-law. Ann was a character, had a lively personality and loved a good story. I have many memories of her heartwarming laugh. She is dearly missed and was a Mom to many of us during her short but colorful life. This Mother’s Day, it will be 15 years since she passed away. Eating her spaghetti and telling stories of her antics evokes warm memories for Bob and me and helps our boys recall their pistol of a Grandma.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (we love mushrooms, so I usually double or even triple this amount)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 pound ground beef
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped (keep the juice to add)
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cooked elbow macaroni for serving
In a large Dutch oven or fry pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook for a few minutes, until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and oregano and stir. Add the mushrooms, stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the ground beef and break it up with a spoon. Stir and cook until the beef is mostly browned with just a little pink left. Add the chopped tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste and a teaspoon of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to start. Stir and bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Give the sauce a stir and taste for salt and pepper. Ladle over macaroni and enjoy.