We eat a lot of spaghetti. Not just because I always feel guilty after making more extravagant meals, but because we find spaghetti to be unctuous and satisfying comfort food. I imagine that many graduate students such as ourselves eat a lot of spaghetti. This is an easy way to pack some flavor into most crappy cheap sauces.

It helps if you have a good sauce to start with. Prego works best, I buy a two pack of 67 oz jars of this stuff for $7.00 at Costco. Occasionally I make spaghetti sauce from scratch, with crushed tomatoes, garlic and onions, pancetta and basil … but honestly, it’s usually not worth the effort when I have this recipe under my belt.

Prego Bolognese
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This was made from scratch, right?
  • Optional:
  • 1 carrot, small dice
  • ½ red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried basil OR ¼ cup chiffonade fresh basil
  • ½ tsp crush red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp combined dried herbs of your choice: oregano, italian seasoning, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, parsley
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley or basil for garnish
  • Bare Essentials:
  • ½ large onion, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ lb frozen meatballs, preferably Italian style, thawed and minced
  • 6 cups Prego Heart Smart traditional marinara sauce, or your choice of premade sauce
  • 2 tbsp Butter and/or Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Cut up all your veggies, combine all your dried herbs bay leaves etc.
  2. Heat butter and/or olive oil in large saucepan.
  3. Add all veggies and saute until onion starts getting caramelized, about 7 min.
  4. Add the minced meatballs and all spices, saute 1 min.
  5. Add the pasta sauce and balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  6. Cover and simmer for 25 min. Serve with spaghetti and garnishes.
Easy on the salt at first because the frozen meatballs may be higher in salt than you expected.