RECIPE: Belen’s Vat o’ Sketti

This is my know-it-by-heart, dump things in a pot, reheat for tasty leftovers all week comfort food. Some measurements are estimates, though I have made an effort to measure most things this time through. You may notice that I use a sauce mix in this…it’s my dirty secret 🙂 It just means I start with a nice base taste, rather than having to take the time to build it from scratch with a more time-intensive cooking cycle (which I do for my pizza sauce that I make every 6 weeks).

The sauce is meaty, thick, and heavy of the garlic and red pepper.
Prep time: 30 min.
Cook time: 30 min. – 3+ hours 🙂 (longer simmering gives you more depth of flavor)

Serves: approx. 12 (you may want to half the recipe)


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large sweet onion, roughly diced
3 small bell peppers, roughly diced (red, yellow, orange – I don’t like green, but you may 🙂
1 large head of garlic, sliced
1 small package of whole/sliced mushrooms, sliced
1.5 lbs ground bison or ground beef
28-oz can crushed tomatoes (I prefer organic sauces)
14-oz can diced tomatoes
14-oz can tomato sauce
6-oz can tomato paste
2 packages McCormick’s Thick and Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup fresh oregano
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/3 cup fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
1 tbsp crushed red pepper (this is a guess – I shake it pretty liberally til there is a light coating on the surface of the sauce)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper


  1. In a 6-quart sauce pan, saute onions, peppers, & garlic in olive oil. Once onions are glassy, reduce heat to medium, add ground bison/beef (ground bison is lower in fat and needs to cook at a lower temp than most ground beef) and cook until half brown. Add mushrooms and continue to cook until ground bison is browned.
  2. While this is cooking, chop fresh herbs.
  3. Add all 4 tomato sauces to the sauce pan, along with the seasoning mixes, red wine, fresh herbs, and other spices. Stir, let come to a boil, and then turn down to the lowest simmer you can manage.
  4. Wait. And stir periodically. And wait (yes, that means you, Andee!). The longer you let it simmer, the better it will taste. If your pants are on fire, 30 minutes will do. I really prefer 1-1.5 hours, and if you can start it mid-day and let it cook for longer, you might just decide you love me forever 😉


Fresh Ingredients

Rough--Cut Sweet Onions

The Pepper Triumverate

Home-grown Garlic

Big Pile of Herbs

Even More Basil

Let's Get Going

Enter Beef and Mushrooms

Enter Beef and Mushrooms

Patience is a Virtue

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