Christmas spaghetti

We started having the big family Christmas gathering at my house when I rented my church’s parsonage after my wife and I split. You’d think that holiday hosting duties wouldn’t fall to the newly single guy, but logistically it just made sense. I was pinching pennies thanks to exorbitant lawyer bills, and that first Christmas was mighty lean. It was so lean that I fed everyone spaghetti for Christmas dinner.

I must admit, I really like my homemade spaghetti sauce. I had perfected it through trial and error when I taught myself to cook in my early 20s in my first apartment.  But I was surprised when my Christmas spaghetti was a huge hit, and even more surprised the next year when everybody asked me to make it again. My mom has asked for it every year since. Now that money isn’t so tight, I make a bigger and more elaborate Christmas meal – but make spaghetti the night before or the night after. Here’s my recipe.

1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 stick pepperoni, cut into chunks
Small onion, diced
30 oz. crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
30 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
12 oz. tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, pressed
2 t basil
2 t oregano
1 t salt
1 t pepper

Brown the sausage with the onion and drain the fat. Add the tomatoes, pepperoni, and spices and simmer until the flavors come together, at least an hour.

As you can see, there’s not much to it, but it sure does taste good. I usually serve it with a salad, steamed broccoli, and warm crusty bread.

What unusual Christmas traditions does your family have?

Another tradition at my house is the Christmas music we play. Johnny Mathis figures heavily into the mix. Read that story.


10 responses to “Christmas spaghetti”

  1. Robyn W Avatar
    Robyn W

    I am going to try your sauce after the holidays! Do you use spicy Italian sausage? Or just the regular. I absolutely LOVE those gold Corelle dishes. My Mom had some in the 70’s on Lancaster, as well. I remember when she got them; she was stylin!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I haven’t tried my sauce with spicy sausage. I usually buy Bob Evans Italian sausage because it’s easy to get!

      My Corelle is the genuine article — the stuff we used on Lancaster Drive in the 70s. Mom kept it all these years, and gave it to me post-divorce when I needed housewares!

  2. Todd Pack Avatar

    I suspect we’ll be having that spaghetti sometime over the holidays, if not on Christmas Day. I always liked Calvin Trillin’s idea of making spaghetti carbonera the official meal of Thanksgiving, but it’s a losing battle in our house. I got pushback when I suggested maybe we could have ham for Christmas instead of turkey!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Traditions die hard! When I was married, our Christmas dinner was always a standing rib roast. Oh. My. Goodness. was it ever delicious.

  3. Nancy [ Roe] Stewart Avatar
    Nancy [ Roe] Stewart

    I have my mother’s complete set for 12 of those same dishes with matching water glasses. Still get them out if we have a bunch of people over for dinner — which isn’t too often. Sure like the sounds of that spaghetti. Will probably give it a try after the holidays.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I have three of the glasses left — the little juice glasses. The rest of the glasses all broke back in the ’70s! Tip: The pepperoni is optional in the sauce. It adds good flavor, but the sauce does work without it.

  4. ryoko861 Avatar

    I really should make my own spaghetti sauce (gravy to all you Italians out there!). I’m going to have to give this a try! My kids love pepperoni so this will appeal to everyone!

    We have pizza.

    Merry Christmas Jim! Enjoy!

    1. Jim Avatar

      The pepperoni is really delightful in this sauce! Merry Christmas to you, too.

  5. zorgor Avatar

    Lobster Thermidor. My mom has made lobster thermidor for Christmas Eve dinner for as long as I can remember.

    In other news, mmmmm spaghetti…

    1. Jim Avatar

      That’s quite a Christmas Eve tradition! Your mom must spend the whole afternoon in the kitchen.

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