Italian Tomato Sauce


The best spaghetti sauce! We had this every Wednesday when I was growing up. The secret ingredient is the nutmeg. Just a pinch. Delicious! Serve over spaghetti.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
50 mins
10 servings


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, diced

  • ¼ cup chopped celery

  • 1 small garlic clove, minced

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 40 ounces Italian-style stewed tomatoes

  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

  • 1 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms, or to taste

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or to taste

  • ¼ cup parsley

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda, or to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, celery, and garlic in hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes; add beef and cook, stirring to break into small chunks, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes more.

  2. Stir stewed tomatoes and tomato paste with the beef mixture until smooth; add mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, sugar, nutmeg, oregano, and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is flavorful, about 10 minutes.

  3. Stir baking soda into the sauce. Continue cooking until you can taste a reduction in acidity of the sauce, about 10 minutes more.

Cook's Notes:

Baking soda helps to neutralize acid in tomatoes, making the sauce more palatable. Add soda in very small increments and cook sauce several minutes after adding. Taste and add more soda if desired, but sauce will tend to be more or less acrid, depending on quality of tomatoes and paste.

I freeze the remainder and simply defrost and heat in the microwave. This can be done several times and it is as good as a leftover as it is when it is first made.

If sauce becomes too thick, add a little water toward the end of cooking. If too thin, cook uncovered about 15 minutes.

Use whatever ground meat you prefer. This works with beef, turkey, or chicken.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

201 Calories
10g Fat
18g Carbs
13g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 201
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g 12%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 32mg 11%
Sodium 980mg 43%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 20mg 101%
Calcium 108mg 8%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 565mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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