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conforti family red gravy (spaghetti sauce)

(3 ratings)
Blue Ribbon Recipe by
Lauren Conforti

When I was growing up my mother would open a jar of Ragu when we had spaghetti. Even though I do like Ragu, there is just nothing like homemade! My husband is Italian, and I had never made sauce from scratch. He got me started now, and the house smells phenomenal while it's cooking! This recipe was passed down to my husband from Great-Grandmom Mae Conforti. It’s been a family recipe for generations, way back in Italy.

Blue Ribbon Recipe

Tomato is the star of this homemade red gravy (aka spaghetti sauce). It's a very traditional Italian recipe, slightly different than American versions, that's thick and filled with great flavor. The key to this sauce is letting it cook a long time for the flavors to mingle. The seasonings are simple and classic. This sauce is very versatile and can be used over pasta, in a lasagna, on pizza, or with a calzone. We added Italian sausage and that, along with the mushrooms, add heartiness and texture. If you want a little heat, use spicy sausage. This makes a huge pot of tomato sauce.

— The Test Kitchen @kitchencrew
(3 ratings)
prep time 20 Min
cook time 8 Hr
method Stove Top

Ingredients For conforti family red gravy (spaghetti sauce)

  • 2 can
    tomato puree (28 oz each)
  • 2 can
    crushed tomatoes (28 oz each)
  • 1 can
    tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1-2 c
    sliced mushrooms (or use canned)
  • 1
    vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1/2
    green bell pepper, chopped (sometimes i substitute roasted red peppers)
  • 4-5 clove
    garlic, minced (adjust to suit your taste)
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 1 Tbsp
  • 1/8 c
    Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp
  • red wine, (or marsala wine)
  • 1 lb
    sweet Italian sausage, sliced & cooked (optional)
  • 24 sm
    meatballs, cooked (optional) frozen, or make your own

How To Make conforti family red gravy (spaghetti sauce)

Test Kitchen Tips
The size of the pot you use may speed up the cooking process. Ours was thickened in 5-6 hours so we suggest starting to check the sauce then. Also, make sure to cook on low heat or it will burn.
  • A large serving dish of Conforti Family Red Gravy (Spaghetti Sauce).
    This is a double batch. The single batch always gives me enough sauce for 2 dinners, so I double it and freeze the extra. Use a large stockpot. (I've used a 6 qt. Crock Pot and without the meat added it filled it right to the top!)
  • Frying the meat.
    If adding meat, fry the sausage or meatballs until nice and browned.
  • Deglazing pan with wine.
    De-glaze the pan with a little wine to get all those browned bits. If NOT adding the meat, just add a little wine to the sauce.
  • Tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, and garlic added.
    Add the tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, and garlic.
  • Mushrooms added to the sauce.
    Add the mushrooms into the pot with the seasonings being added as below.
  • Basil, oregano, and parsley added.
    ** For the seasonings, My husband's grandmother taught him to add the seasonings in this order as a boy. I thought it was cute. First, you see the grass grow (this is the oregano, basil, parsley);
  • Parmesan cheese added to the sauce.
    Then the snow falls on the grass (Parmesan cheese);
  • Sugar added to the sauce.
    Then you see some frost on the snow (this is the sugar);
  • Mixing seasonings into the sauce.
    Then, of course, you mix it all in. :)
  • Simmering the sauce.
    Cook at a low heat for 8-10 hours. I replace the pot lid with a flat slotted pan (like a pizza pan) to allow moisture to escape.
  • Sauce after simmering and thickening.
    The sauce needs to cook down a bit and thicken. Note: You can cook this recipe all day on LOW in a 6-quart or larger Crock Pot.