Monika’s Molecular Meals: Easy Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce (Inspired By Marcella Hazan)

By Monika Knapp | 30 June 2021 2640 views
low carb spaghetti sauce

Ditch The Store-Bought Sauce For This Delicious & Simple Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce

Monika's Molecular Meals: Easy Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce (Inspired By Marcella Hazan)

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I haven’t purchased a jar of spaghetti sauce in probably 5 years.

And that’s for one BIG reason… sugar.

Spaghetti sauce is one of those secret “sugar bombs” that’s just loaded with added sugar and sodium when you buy it pre-made – and if it’s not, odds are it costs an arm and a leg.

But here’s the thing about spaghetti sauce… at its heart and soul, it’s NOT a high-carb food.

It’s low-sugar, doesn’t require a ton of salt, and while I prefer the additions of olive oil and butter, good spaghetti sauce truly only needs a little.

And I’d also like to bust the myth that you need to slave away over a proper spaghetti sauce for hours and hours…

(And come out of the kitchen looking sweaty & exhausted with your homemade sauce…)

Newsflash: you definitely do not.

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A bolognese? Sure. A Sunday ragu? Simmer away. A simple spaghetti sauce? Let it go for an hour, TOPS.

And that makes it even easier to pass up on that store-bought stuff… because making your own isn’t super time-consuming or complicated.

But you don’t have to take my word for it… For this easy method, we turn to the queen:

Marcella Hazan.

I’ve cooked Marcella’s famous tomato sauce with onions and butter on countless occasions, and it never disappoints. It’s shockingly simple, and an absolute dream on fresh pasta.

(Believe me, if you make this for family or friends… you will have MANY people asking you for the recipe!)

For this sauce, we’re relying on the same core ingredients, with a slight adjustment to the process for extra flavor.

Monika's Molecular Meals: Easy Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce (Inspired By Marcella Hazan)

FTH’s Easy Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce (Inspired By The Queen of Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan)

Equipment Needed: Dutch oven or saucepan; (optional) blender or handheld immersion blender

Recipe Time: About an hour

Makes: Enough to sauce 1-1.5 pounds of pasta (or zoodles, veg, etc.)

Ingredients

  • 1 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand and reserved in their juices (see Recipe Notes)
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or infused herb oil (see Recipe Notes)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (optional)
  • A few pinches crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
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Directions:

1) Sweat your aromatics.

Add the butter, olive oil, sliced onion, and a large pinch of salt to your Dutch oven or saucepan, and turn up the heat to medium. Sweat for 5-10 minutes or until the onion turns a yellow-golden color. Stir occasionally.

2) Add everything else and simmer.

When the onion is golden yellow, add your optional seasonings, another large pinch of salt, and dump in the tomatoes, along with all the juices. (Pick out any extra herbs/stems that may have been in the can.)

Taste it and add more salt as needed (note that it will reduce, so don’t add too much salt at this point!), then adjust the heat so the sauce is only gently bubbling. Simmer like this for 30-40 minutes.

3) Blend (or don’t!) and enjoy.

I prefer a sauce that can really cling to pasta and is somewhat uniform in consistency, so at this point, I like to blend everything up. I also really love the natural sweetness of onions, which is why I like to include them in the final sauce.

Alternatively, you could remove the onions using tongs and leave it as-is for a more rustic appearance. (This is what Marcella suggests.)

Whether you blend it or not though, pat yourself on the back because you never have to buy store-bought, sugar-laden spaghetti sauce again!

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Recipe Notes

  • You can use fresh tomatoes for this IF they are in season. And because good tomato season is so freaking short, odds are good-quality whole canned tomatoes are going to give you a tastier sauce. The reason you want to buy them whole is, again, related to quality. The tomatoes used for cans of crushed tomatoes are lower quality than the whole tomatoes in cans, since they often contain imperfections or blemishes that render them unfit for cans of whole, peeled tomatoes. So stick with the whole peeled, and you’ll be good. (Plus, it’s kinda fun to crush them with your hands anyway.)
  • Anytime I use olive oil in a savory recipe, I’m pretty much always reaching for my DIY garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil. If you’re fancy, you can call this “garlic confit,” but here’s what I do: Peel and crush cloves from an entire head of garlic, dump them in a heat-proof container, and cover with A LOT of extra virgin olive oil. Roast at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes, or until you see small bubbles emerging from the garlic and it smells extremely garlicky. Remove from the oven, then add in optional herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes, or the zest from one lemon. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, then strain and use as needed. It’s instant flavor!
Monika's Molecular Meals: Easy Low-Carb Spaghetti Sauce (Inspired By Marcella Hazan)

My Homemade Piemontese Egg Yolk Pasta Recipe (Lower Gluten Than Store-Bought)

When I was in Italy with my family a few years ago, we spent a lot of time in the Northern region of Piemonte eating a lot of pasta (and drinking LOTS of wine)… and while the pasta I make at home can’t compare to the experienced hand of a Piemontese nonna, it sure as hell beats the store-bought crap.

In fact, since then, I’ve almost completely stopped buying pasta at the store just so I can enjoy this delicious homemade recipe.

And in addition to tasting WAY better than the store-bought stuff… this easy homemade pasta is also lower in gluten than most store-bought pastas.

The secret? Egg yolks. Lots of them. Which means this pasta is rich, golden, and easier to digest for the gluten-sensitive folks out there.

Ingredients:

  • 300g Type “00” flour (can be purchased on Amazon, and is also carried in many specialty grocery stores)
  • 2 eggs, plus 6 yolks at room temperature
  • 1 tsp salt (I like to use truffle salt)
  • 1 Tbsp herb oil (I like to use my DIY herb oil from above)
  • A splash of water as needed
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Directions:

  1. Form your flour into a large mound with a well in the center for the eggs.
  2. Dump the eggs and yolks into the well, then top with the olive oil and salt. Using a fork, gently agitate the egg yolks with a little bit of flour at a time until you have a shaggy dough. 
  3. Using oiled hands, knead the dough until it comes together, then continue kneading for about 10 minutes, or until it is stretchy and very pliable. If it seems too dry, add a little bit more water. You shouldn’t have any dry flour in the dough.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for at least an hour.
  5. Roll out the dough and cut into noodles by hand, or use a pasta maker to roll the dough until you can read newspaper through it (I usually take the dough to setting #6 in my Marcato machine), then cut into noodles. The traditional Piemontese preparation is to cut these noodles by hand into strips sized somewhere between spaghetti and tagliatelle, AKA “tajarin.”
low carb spaghetti sauce

Cutting Back On Sugar? 3 “Safe” Sugar Substitutes That Are Low-Carb & Great For Your Health

I know it’s hard to cut sugar out of your diet completely… because these days, “big food” companies add sugar to EVERYTHING!

That applies not only to things like spaghetti sauce… but your salad dressings… breads & crackers… soups… and even ketchup!

Which makes shopping for a “low-carb” diet especially frustrating… unless you have hours and hours to spend cooking your own meals and prepping for the weeks ahead. 

(Martha Stewart might make it look easy, but hey, some of us are actually human!)

And in my experience, if you’re sticking to a low-carb diet, it is basically impossible to cut out sugar altogether… 

Although you definitely CAN make some “healthier” substitutes:

  1. Fruit-based sugars that are natural (like sugar from dried fruits, dates, golden raisins, and 100% all-natural juices)
  2. Avoiding any store-bought products with “added sugars” (pay special attention to the labels)
  3. And, whenever possible, using these 3 “safe” sugar substitutes in place of white sugar.

I know it might sound strange to call a sugar substitute “safe”… I mean, we all know sugar is bad for you, so any alternative is technically “safer”… right?

Wrong.

Several studies have revealed certain sugar substitutes can actually have the OPPOSITE intended effect… and make you gain weight, even though you’re technically “cutting” calories!

(Plus, a few of those artificial sweeteners have been linked to some other health problems, too… so it’s important to be selective about the sugar substitutes you use.)

So if you do decide to use sweeteners instead of white table sugar… 

Click here to see our list of 3 “safe” sugar substitutes for MAXIMUM weight loss (and absolutely no “hidden calories”).

[Note: This post was updated by Fit Trim Happy on March 1, 2020.]