Pasta Pomodoro with Shrimp

DeSando Family Recipe for Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spag & Meatballs 3

This is our family recipe that has been handed down for multiple generations. My grandfather Frank, who emigrated from Calabria, taught my dad, who taught me. And I have subsequently taught my two sons, Luke & Carlo, how to make this rich red sauce and succulent meatballs.

(Meatball recipe to follow –

DeSando Family Recipe for Red Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion medium chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes. (You can also use one can of diced tomatoes and one can whole tomatoes. You can even use a jar of prepared sauce as an option.)
  • 1 bottle of good Red wine. (Cook with wine you would drink yourself)
  • Generous pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sugar to taste
  • Tomato paste (optional – read below)
  • 1-2 cups of water as needed
  • OPTIONAL – Chicken parts (dark meat) and whole pork chops to flavor the sauce (Read step 9 below for more info)
  • Fresh basil (for serving and garnish). Fresh basil will turn black if cooked over time in the red sauce. Add fresh basil as you are serving, for an esthetic look and fresh herb taste.
Red Sauce
  1. Use a wide skillet or a wide-bottomed pot and heat the olive oil over med heat
  2. Season the chopped onions with salt (so they will release their liquids while cooking) and sauté until they begin to sweat, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Do not let the garlic burn, just cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the tomatoes. If using whole, peeled tomatoes, squish them in your hands to break them up. The tomatoes will continue to break down the longer the sauce cooks.
  5. Use the red wine to swirl in the empty cans of tomatoes, to catch-all the extra juices. You can also use water to swirl in the empty cans.
  6. Add Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Bay Leaves, Salt & pepper to taste, Crushed Red peppers.
  7. Add sugar if desired, to counterbalance the acidity of the tomatoes. Start small, with a teaspoon or two. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out once you have put the sugar in.
  8. Some recipes call for tomato paste, which is used to thicken the sauce. Cooking over several hours over low heat will accomplish the same thing. If the sauce gets too thick, just add water. If it’s too thin, you can add tomato paste or just cook longer.
  9. Optional step – I also cook raw pork chops and raw chicken in the sauce. Let those cook thoroughly (about 30-40 minutes). Remove pork chops and chicken and eat them while you wait for the sauce to cook down. Especially if you are simmering the sauce for several hours. The down side to this step is that the chops & chicken will produce grease, which will need to be skimmed off of the surface.
  10. Simmer on low for about 2 hours. Stir every 30 minutes, to stop the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
  11. Remove the bay leaf before serving. The sauce will continue to thicken the longer it cooks. There is no right or wrong amount of time for a sauce to simmer. When my dad cooked sauce when I was growing up, it simmered overnight, the smell wafting throughout the house into the morning.
  12. Add fresh basil as a garnish and serve.
Spag & Meatballs

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