Homemade spaghetti sauce adds fresh flavor to your pasta dishes. Make your own sauce to customize the flavors to your preference with seasonings and added ingredients. Start with a basic marinara for use in dishes like lasagna or add your favorite vegetables and meats and serve it with pasta. Choose fresh or canned tomatoes; canned tomatoes reduce your preparation time, but do not taste as fresh as bulk tomatoes.
Fill a large pot 3/4-full with water, if using fresh tomatoes. Set the burner on high and wait for the water to boil. Cover the pot to reach a boil quicker. Cut an "x" in the bottom of each tomato with a paring knife.
Submerge tomatoes in the boiling water for 40 seconds. Remove them immediately to a large bowl full of ice, referred to as an ice bath, to stop the cooking process. Remove the tomatoes from the ice bath and peel the skins. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and remove the seeds. Chop the seeded tomatoes into 1-inch cubes.
Add olive oil to the large skillet. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Chop the mushrooms and add them, if desired. Cook the mixture until the onions turn translucent. Add your chopped tomatoes; if using canned tomatoes, drain the cans thoroughly and add canned tomatoes.
Mix in the sugar, stirring to distribute it evenly. If using dried herbs, stir them in at this time. Cook the sauce to boiling over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer the sauce for 20 to 40 minutes or until thickened to your preferred consistency. Stir in fresh herbs during the last 10 minutes of cooking time to avoid cooking the flavor out of them.
Saute eggplant or zucchini until soft and cook it into the sauce for a garden vegetable style sauce. Add pepperoni or 1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes for spice. Stir in 1/2-cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for added thickening and flavor.