My gluten free spaghetti sauce recipe is a bit of a modern version of the authentic Italian spaghetti sauce that my Sicilian grandmother used to make. I have included both the authentic ingredients as well as a few shortcuts I take. I sometimes use dried parsley, canned mushrooms, etc. You can use all fresh ingredients or opt to take the shortcuts, but they both taste wonderful.
Grandma used to use oxtails, but I use beef stew meat. You have the choice of using mild or hot Italian sausage or double up on the beef stew meat though the sausage provides a tremendous amount of flavor. I like to cook the sausages well prior to adding them to the sauce ingredients to reduce the fat content. Just browning them will raise the calorie and fat values, but again, will provide additional flavor.
You can also make Gluten Free Meatballs (minus the glaze), which is something my grandmother always made. Add them in the last hour of cooking so that they don’t break apart.
Everyone who has tasted this spaghetti sauce enjoys it. All of the extra meat really amps up lasagna and baked ziti, which everyone finds to be delightful. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has for generations.
This recipe is from my upcoming cookbook, Carla’s 125 Gluten-Free Recipes.
Authentic Italian Gluten Free Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 pound gluten-free sweet or hot Italian sausage
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large yellow onions, chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
- 1 pound ground sirloin or 10% fat ground beef
- 1 pound lean beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 (4-ounce) can mushrooms*, chopped or 1/2 pound fresh, chopped
- 5 teaspoons Italian seasoning**
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley or 1 teaspoon fresh flat-leaf
- 5 dried bay leaves
- 1-1/2 cups full-bodied*** red wine (optional)
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, including juice
- 1 large (12-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 small (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 1 large (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 small (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- Water (see instructions)
- 5 teaspoons granulated sugar, or to taste
- Stab holes in the sausage using a steak knife, 4 stabs on each. (This allows fat to drain out during cooking.) Add them to a large, heavy skillet. Add about 1/4-inch water. Turn sausages frequently while water begins to boil. Once the water evaporates continue to cook, just until brown on both sides. It’s okay if they are still undercooked. You will cook them more in the sauce. Set them on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain and cool; set aside. Once cooled, slice width-wise into 1/3-inch thick slices. Preheat an ungreased stockpot over medium heat, and add olive oil.
- Add onion and sauté until translucent, 7 – 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the ground and stew meat directly to the pot and break up the beef. Cook until both types of meat are no longer pink on the outside. Add sausage slices and stir.
- Toss the mushrooms, Italian seasoning, parsley, bay leaves, and wine in, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.
- While the mixture is simmering, empty the can of whole tomatoes into a bowl or food processor. Using 2 knives cut them up into small pieces or pulsate in a food processor. You want to leave the tomatoes a little chunky. You may also use diced canned tomatoes. Add them along with their juices to the pot. Rinse out the can by filling it halfway with water and add it as well.
- Add tomato paste and sauce. Fill each of the cans halfway with water and scrape down the sides to remove the remaining paste and sauce. Empty them into the pot. This will supply you with enough water for the recipe.
- Stir in the sugar, if using. Simmer for at least 3 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it will taste. Add additional water, to your liking, as it evaporates.
- Use this sauce on spaghetti, in lasagna, and baked ziti. Freeze leftovers in several air-tight containers. Use different sizes for different occasions. Use some individual sizes for just you or a family member. Then freeze some in larger containers to feed the entire family or guests. See the Tips section on how to make baked ziti for a crowd.
Warning: If you are hyper-sensitive to trace amounts of gluten, do not consume mushrooms. They are often grown on wheat though they usually test well below 20 parts per million.
**You can substitute a mixture of oregano, marjoram, rosemary, savory, sage, thyme, and basil, or any combination thereof, for Italian seasoning.
***Full-bodied wines include Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, and Malbec.
Ideally, brown the ground beef and stew meat separately in a preheated, oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Doing so adds additional flavor. Then add it to the pot before adding the seasonings and wine.
You may substitute equal amounts of beef stew meat and/or ground beef for the sausage. Omitting sausage reduces the sodium level.
Easy recipe for Baked Ziti: Unexpected guests will be thrilled when served this delicious baked ziti. In a large casserole dish, combine plenty of sauce with cooked gluten-free pasta. (Gluten-free pasta absorbs more sauce than traditional pasta.) Top with plenty of shredded Mozzarella cheese and bake in a preheated 350°F oven until thoroughly heated.
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