Spaghetti Sauce

In memory of my grandmother Amelia Bonturi, "Nonni".

The Internet is awash in recipes for spaghetti sauce and here is yet another one. This is an old family recipe which has been passed down from Nonni to her five daughters from Hollister, California, and to their daughters and sons and to Nonni's great grandchildren. Our mothers/aunts learned to make it from Nonni, who never measured her ingredients; she just knew how much of this or that to use and it was always perfect. The recipe was never put into writing until I asked my mother, Gloria, to tell me the recipe, which I present here. This page is intended to remove the guesswork and allow anyone to follow the recipe and make it successfully.

The recipe contains Nonni's special ingredient which she said made her spaghetti sauce so good. Her special ingredient: cinnamon. The sauce can be made vegan simply by omitting the ground beef and, if desired, substituting a soy-based hamburger substitute. If you are averse to handling onions, an electric chopper is recommended. Be careful, though, as too much electric chopper action will result in a liquefied purée. You want to chop the onion, not purée it.

The recipe:


1 lb ground beef (Vegan: soy-based hamburger substitute or omit) Sprinkle salt and pepper on the ground beef.
1 medium onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
29 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
3 bay leaves

OPTIONAL
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch baking soda (tames acidity and smoothes out the flavor)

Seasonings may be adjusted to taste.

Coat bottom of saucepan with a layer of cooking oil. Cook ground beef, onion and garlic until beef is no longer pink and onions are tender. You may get some excess water from the onion; simply allow it to reduce.

Add remaining ingredients. Simmer slowly for three hours, adding water as needed. Remove bay leaves.


Amelia Bonturi

Nonni in the kitchen




In memory of our uncle, Charles Bonturi, and our cousin, Renette Ungaretti.


© Copyright Chris Clementson