My husband doesn’t care much for spaghetti.

I think it’s the tomato sauce that puts him off.

Then one night we went to a friend’s house for dinner and she served a tomatoey pasta dish.

He liked it.

“It was spaghetti,” I pointed out. “No, it wasn’t,” he countered.

So, now it’s one of my go-to easy family dinners and I call it:


A recipe for people who think they don’t like spaghetti.

In a skillet, brown:

  • equal parts ground sausage and lean ground beef, turkey, or pork
  • 1 onion, chopped

While it’s cooking, set a pot of water boiling for noodles.

The secret to making it not-spaghetti is to use penne or other shape noodle rather than spaghetti noodles, and use diced tomatoes instead of sauce. It’s the ease of spaghetti, done just differently enough to be — different.

Once the beef and sausage is done, add the following to the skillet:

  • diced tomatoes (about the same volume as meat)
  • Italian seasonings
  • olives, chopped

Boil up enough noodles for the family, drain, and mix in with the tomato/sausage sauce.

Voila! Serve with a salad and you’re set.

This meal takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and it’s satisfying and tasty enough to be featured on a weeknight company menu.

Another bonus to this version of the classic is that if you have young children who make a big mess out of the long stringy pasta, penne or some other small pasta shape is much more easily eaten with a fork or even fingers by the younger set.

This family-friendly meal is much less messy than the original.

I tried freezing this meal, but it doesn’t reconstitute well. However, it’s so simple that it might even be faster to simply freeze cooked sausage and beef — with onions! — in dinner-sized blocks.

Then dinner prep would just be dumping and heating the already-cooked ingredients while boiling noodles.

Try it out on your spaghetti-skeptics and see if you can’t please even them!

One Comment

  1. Yes, I don’t know what it is about using tomatoes instead of pasta sauce, but it makes a world of difference! I cook butter chicken and then add tomatoes to the butter/chicken broth and serve it all over spaghetti noodles and my family loves it. Changing up the pasta is a great idea too. I can usually “sell” traditional spaghetti to my family if I use rotini instead of spaghetti noodles.

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