Eat Skinny Be Skinny: Chunky & Spicy Marinara Over Spaghetti

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I’m a pasta junkie, and I have been ever since I can remember. Growing up, spaghetti and meatballs was my FAVORITE dish. Except when I was a wee little tot, I called it “psgetti” and it was one of my first words! I guess that was sign number one I was meant to be a foodie, right? Even at my ripe age of 25, spaghetti is still one of my favorite foods. There is something so comforting about this traditional dish. However, the key to an incredible spaghetti recipe is the sauce. I’ve had one too many pasta dishes ruined by a weak sauce. But have no fear friends, this sauce I’m about to share with you IS THE BOSS. For reals.

Sorry about the iPhone photo, my poor camera needed some serious charging time after HLS! Regardless, this sauce is SO good. I used a recipe I found by Giada as my base, then spruced it up with red pepper flakes, a dash of chili powder, some chopped mushrooms and fresh chives. I love traditional homemade marinara, but the added spice really took this sauce to the next flavor. My taste buds were dancing, literally dancing, with the succulent flavors and zesty spice. Instead of meatballs (I was starving and didn’t have the time/patience), I decided to throw in some 98% fat free turkey sausage for added protein. I kept with the tradition and served over al-dente spaghetti noodles.

Each bite had the perfect blend of spice plus the hearty texture with the chunks of satueed mushrooms and sweet turkey sausage made for an incredibly filling meal!

NOTE: If you are a meatball person, try this recipe for great turkey meatballs! You can swap the sausage for any variety you’d like. Plus, you can serve this sauce with anything! In lasagna, on pizza or over any kind of noodle!

Spicy, Chunky Homemade Marinara over Spaghetti


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About an hour and 15 minutes
Yield: 2 quarts of sauce and 5 one cup servings of spaghetti

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup of mushrooms, stemed and chopped
  • 48 ounces of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes (more or less depending on desired flavor)
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder (again, more or less depending on desired flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning (or a mix of oregano and basil)
  • 7 ounces turkey sausage (OPTIONAL)*
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 4 fresh chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make It:

  • In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onions, cook for a few minutes, then add garlic. Cook until lightly browned. Add mushrooms and carrots and cook until veggies are brown and carmelized.

  • Take pan off heat. In a larger pot, add vegetables and tomatoes and set on medium heat. Add in spices, bay leaves and salt and pepper and heat for about an hour.
  • While sauce is heating, cook turkey sausage by boiling it for 5-7 minutes. When done, chop into bite size pieces.

  • Once sausage is chopped, set aside. In another pot, heat 6 – 8 cups of water to a boil, add spaghetti and cook until just soft. Set aside.  Taste test sauce (once it’s perfectly seasoned to your palette), take off heat and add in sausage. Serve over noodles with a dash of parmesean cheese and chopped chive.

Nutritional information per 1 cup of sauce with 3/4 cup of pasta: 370 calories, 12 grams of fat, 45 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams of protein.

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  1. Posted by Jessica Trimble on
    Thursday, August 25th, 2011
    I'm pretty sure this is what we're having for dinner tonight now. Thanks! ;)
  2. Posted by Jennifer B on
    Thursday, August 25th, 2011
    I love Giada! She inspires many of my dishes! I just started my own food blog ( and I hope I end up as popular as you! lol
  3. Posted by Margaret on
    Thursday, August 25th, 2011
    Mmmmmmm, looks good.  I make homemade marinara all the time, but never thought to add chili powder.  I'll have to try that!
  4. Posted by Susan on
    Thursday, August 25th, 2011
    Looks gorgeous!  There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of pasta.
  5. Posted by The Culinary Lens on
    Thursday, August 25th, 2011
    You cannot beat a home made marinara so  much better than store bought
  6. Posted by Kelly on
    Friday, August 26th, 2011
    Claire this marinara looks so delicious!!  Love your photos too! :)
  7. Posted by Jill on
    Friday, August 26th, 2011
    Wow, that looks just as delicious as my fat-ladden pasta sauce I normally make. Your sausage is a much better decision. Considering the way the scale has been going lately, I'm going to be making this one next time!
  8. Posted by Ann on
    Friday, August 26th, 2011
    This looks fabulous!  I love pasta, of my favorite dishes ever!
  9. Posted by Christine on
    Friday, August 26th, 2011
    Looks wonderful... love pasta. Thanks for sharing.
  10. Posted by Lauren on
    Friday, August 26th, 2011
    Dang! amazing looking recipe and pictures, I know it tastes great :)
  11. Posted by Anonymous on
    Friday, August 26th, 2011
    Looks great
  12. Posted by Motherrimmy on
    Sunday, August 28th, 2011
    I love this veggie packed spaghetti. I really like the quinoa pastas. The texture and flavor is close to flour pastas.