This recipe always reminds me of my college roommate Ben and the four years we spent together at UC Davis. Not sure how this happened, but during our first year of college, we were luckily placed at the Primero Grove apartments for our dorm assignments. We felt extremely blessed and spoiled and all our friends were hella jealous of our living situation. The amazing apartment was equipped with a standard kitchenette with stovetop and oven, full-sized refrigerator, and our own separate bathrooms. Let me tell you, it was WAY NICER LOOKING THAN ACTUAL DORMS!
Sometimes when we didn’t feel like going to the Dining Hall for dinner, we went to the local grocery store to buy food to cook dinner inside our luxurious apartments. I’ll always remember the times I cooked spaghetti in the dorms. We always cooked a big pot of spaghetti sauce that lasted for days. The delicious smell of the sauteed garlic traveled down the hall of the apartments causing lots of the Manzanita tenants to peak their heads into our apartment to see what was going on. Ben rarely had self-control when it came to eating during college and always overate and enjoyed himself..and sometimes paying for it after. Each time we made spaghetti, he ate at least 3 plates of spaghetti in one sitting. After dinner, he always sat on our couch with the button of his jeans unbuttoned and stomach protruding from his shirt while trying to catch his breath and working on breathing exercises. The look of satisfaction on his face was priceless.
I’ve been making this spaghetti for a very long time. From making it for the family to college roommates to friends, and even for my kids today, this is a great recipe to easily cook for and feed a large crowd. The smokiness of the Hillshire Farm Beef Lit’l Smokies gives the sauce some character and everyone loves it! These days, I also add some fresh basil for color and freshness, but that’s totally optional.
1 1-lb Box of Spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions
2 24-ounce jars Prego Traditional Italian Sauce
2 pounds ground beef
1 12-ounce package of Hillshire Farm Beef Lit’l Smokies
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
8 ounces baby Bella mushrooms, 1/2 sliced and 1/4 chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1-ounce fresh basil, chiffonade (Optional)
Make Sauce – Heat a 6-quart dutch oven to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook Lit’l Smokies until browned. Set Aside. Add onions and mushrooms and saute for about 10 minutes until all the liquid is evaporated. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and break up the ground beef and cook until browned. Remove any excess liquid from the ground beef. Stir in the Lit’l Smokies. Pour Prego sauce into the dutch oven, add sugar, and mix well. Close the lid and simmer on medium low for half an hour. Remove lid from the dutch oven. Add fresh basil and mix into the sauce. Turn off heat and close lid until ready to serve.
Cook Spaghetti – While the spaghetti sauce is simmering, generously salt a large pot of water and cook thin spaghetti according to package directions.
Serve Spaghetti – Put about 6-8 ounces of spaghetti in a bowl. Pour about 1/2 cup or more of spaghetti sauce over the noodles. Add your favorite condiment and serve hot!
- DO NOT ADD OIL TO THE POT OF WATER TO COOK THE SPAGHETTI PASTA.
- Ground Turkey works OK.
- Regular Spaghetti, Rigatoni or Penne pasta works great as well
- Prego is my favorite brand of spaghetti sauce… I don’t use other brands so I wouldn’t recommend using any other brand.
- If Hillshire Farm Beef Lit’l Smokies is not available, use the smoked sausage of your choice.
- If you don’t like mushrooms, other veggie combinations like zucchini, banana squash works as well.