Nick’s Authentic Italian Spaghetti

5 from 6 votes
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Nick’s Authentic Italian Spaghetti recipe comes straight from Italy. Tomatoes, basil, onions, and carrots flavor the meat to make the perfect sauce!

You can never go wrong with Italian-inspired meals, especially a good, hearty pasta. We love using fresh, garden tomatoes for our spaghetti sauce and will often make homemade canned spaghetti sauce when we have an abundance of tomatoes so we can enjoy the bright, fresh flavor all year long. 

Authentic Italian Spaghetti in a bowl

Authentic Italian Spaghetti

This is an actual Italian spaghetti recipe that comes straight from Italy. In our family, we lovingly call this recipe “Nicco’s Sghetti”. My husband’s brother, Nick, spent 2 years in Italy and brought home all sorts of delicious, authentic Italian recipes, including this one! Thanks Nick for sharing this recipe! I don’t think I will ever be satisfied with any other spaghetti!

Ragu, Bolognese, Marinara, and Spaghetti Sauce

The sauce for this spaghetti is a true Italian “ragu”… so what exactly does that mean? It is easy to get confused with all the different kinds of “red” sauces for spaghetti. What’s the difference? IS there a difference? Truth is, they are all similar and some are simply variations of another but they have their differences. Allow me to explain…

Spaghetti sauce in a skillet with meat

Here is a quick lesson on common spaghetti sauces:

  • Ragu – Ragu is a meat-based sauce made with sautéed vegetables and simmered slowly for hours in tomato, broth, wine, and/or milk. There are two common variations of ragu: Ragu alla Bolognese and Ragu alla Napoletana.
  • Ragu alla Bolognese (aka Bolognese) – From the Bologna (Northern) region in Italy. Uses less tomatoes and white wine. Traditionally served with wide pasta or lasagna.
  • Ragu alla Napoletana – From the Naples (Central/Southern) region in Italy. Uses more tomatoes and red wine. Traditionally served with thinner pasta, such as spaghetti.
  • Marinara – Marinara is a simple tomato sauce with common Italian seasonings. Unlike the sauces above, marinara is heavily tomato based and does not contain meat. Though the sauce is mostly tomatoes, it may or may not include onion or other vegetables. Marinara is bright, acidic, and light as opposed to the above sauces which are more rich, hearty, and complex.
  • Spaghetti Sauce – Spaghetti sauce is an Americanized term for any kind of red sauce that is served over noodles. It can include any of the sauces above. Be sure to try our Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce. This is out favorite way to make our fresh, garden tomatoes last all year!
Spaghetti sauce with meat on a spoon

What Meat Is Best For Spaghetti Meat Sauce?

Spaghetti sauce is not limited to just one kind of meat. Here in the U.S., we often think spaghetti is limited to meatballs or ground beef, but in Italy you can find ragu using braised beef, lamb, chicken, fish, veal, or pork. Depending on what region in Italy you are visiting (or using recipes from), meat can be simmered in large portions and then removed and served separately from the pasta and sauce or the meat can be cut or broken into smaller pieces and served in the sauce. Either way, the meat is simmered in the sauce to give the sauce that deep, rich, meaty flavor. 

Can of San Marzano tomatoes

What Tomatoes Are Best For Homemade Spaghetti Sauce?

If using fresh tomatoes, you can never go wrong with a good Roma tomato for spaghetti sauce. Romas are good, meaty tomatoes with few seeds and cook down well into a sauce after they are heated. Dip them in boiling water for 30 seconds to make removing the skins easier before cooking. If using canned tomatoes, my VERY favorite is San Marzano tomatoes. These tomatoes come straight from Italy and they are by far the best. I like getting the 28 oz. can of the whole, peeled tomatoes and crushing them myself with a spatula after they soften and simmer down.

Spaghetti being twirled with a fork

Tips For Making Spaghetti

  • Use Good Tomatoes. If you can’t peel and dice your own fresh garden tomatoes, whole canned San Marzano tomatoes (from the grocery store) are the best substitution.
  • Let It Simmer. The best spaghetti sauces take time. The longer you can let those flavors reduce and simmer together, the better. In many Italian kitchens, the sauce will simmer all day long before being served.
  • Use Ground Pork. You can use all pork or a mixture of pork and beef.
  • Use Fresh Herbs. If you want to take your sauce to the next level, use FRESH herbs. It makes a difference!
  • Salt your pasta water. Not just a pinch. You want to add a good amount, enough that when you taste the water you can distinctly tell there is salt there.
  • Toss It All Together: In Italy (at least in the region where Nick lived), they don’t pour the sauce over the noodles. It is all tossed together and then served!
Pasta bowl of spaghetti with a fork

What To Serve With Spaghetti

When we were growing up, our mom would almost always serve spaghetti with peas. You can also serve your spaghetti with a side salad, or one of these tasty side dish ideas:

How To Make Authentic Italian Spaghetti

Spaghetti in a bowl

Nick’s Authentic Italian Spaghetti

5 from 6 votes
Nick’s Authentic Italian Spaghetti comes straight from Italy. Tomatoes, basil, onions, and carrots flavor the two kinds of meat to make the perfect sauce!
Prep Time 15 mins
Simmer Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Heat oil on medium heat in a large, deep skillet. Add onion, carrots, and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add ground beef and pork and continue to cook.
    Meat and veggies being cooked in a pan for spaghetti
  • When meat is browned and onions are soft, add tomatoes.
    San marzano tomatoes in spaghetti sauce
  • When tomatoes have softened and have started to release their juices (about 4-5 min) add basil, sugar, salt and pepper (if you are whole tomatoes, mash the them with a potato masher or spatula to release all their juices).
    Meaty spaghetti sauce in a pan
  • Simmer for at least 3 hours (and up to 6 hours), stirring occasionally. The longer you simmer, the better. Important: tomatoes burn easily so keep an eye on them and add beef broth a little at a time to thin sauce if needed.
    Spaghetti sauce with meat on a spoon
  • In a large pot, cook spaghetti in salted water to al dente, drain completely and return to pot. Add sauce to the spaghetti noodles and toss until noodles are covered.
    Spaghetti being served with tongs
  • Serve immediately.
    Pasta bowl of spaghetti with a fork

Nutrition Information

Calories: 635kcalCarbohydrates: 66gProtein: 31gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 491mgPotassium: 874mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 6061IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 3mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

More about Erica Walker

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Made this evening and my picky husband loved it! Will definitely make this again. My only issue is there was no mention of how much garlic to use. I added 4 cloves, and it turned out nice..

  2. As shown 07/18/2021, Garlic was omitted from author’s ingredient list.
    I always add a poblano and a couple red bell peppers for a ‘deeper’ flavor.

  3. 5 stars
    Was really good. Made with fresh tomatoes. The addition of carrots surprised me, I don’t even remember noticing them as I ate the spaghetti. I will make again. Thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    You are right that here in Italy we mix the pasta and sauce together before serving. That way the pasta gets nicely coated in sauce. This ragu looks delicious. Hwoever, I would suggest you include an instruction to add salt to the pasta cooking water. It’s a very important step in Italian pasta recipes!

  5. 5 stars
    Always a hit in our home; definitely adding this to my dinner line up for next week! Looks too good to pass up!

  6. don’t know if you tried this recipe with cherry tomato’s or not but they would not be the best for a substitute for plum tomato’s. Plum or Roma have the least seeds and most meat of any tomato and cherry tomato’s have the most seeds and least meat of any tomato. If you can’t find the imported plum’s I would suggest Roma’s.