Tomato Meat Sauce

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Many Americans pride themselves on their sauce for pasta, which is more often than not an elaborate and long-cooking version of a simple, fresh-tasting Sauce Bolognese. This typical sauce comes from a Middle Western cookbook that holds forth on the authenticity of the recipe. It is authentic American, perhaps, but not particularly Italian.



Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Taste and Textureherby, meaty, savory, spiced

Type of Dishpasta sauce, sauces


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 green peppers, chopped
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork or sausage (Italian sausages, skinned)
  • 1 #2½ can Italian tomatoes
  • 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar, approximately
  • 2 teaspoons dried or 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 small dried red peppers
  • 1½ tablespoons salt, approximately
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Spaghetti


  1. Sauté the onions, garlic, and peppers in the olive oil till just wilted and lightly brown. Add the meats, break up well with a fork, and sauté till delicately brown. Add the tomatoes and other ingredients and bring to a boil simmer 3 to 3½ hours, stirring occasionally. Correct the seasoning.

  2. This is often embellished with meatballs, a dish not to be found in Italy, though in this country it is accepted as Neapolitan. I believe it can be considered thoroughly American.

  3. To cook spaghetti. Cook in plenty of boiling salted water to your favorite stage of doneness. Drain well. Toss with a little oil before saucing. Or serve with just butter or butter and cheese.


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