Interspersed between Ramen with egg, Ramen with a can of Tuna dumped into it and Ramen with celery and carrot chunks, was the occasional canned meal. Ah yes, at a young age I had my own “personal chef” named Boyarde who made the most delicious Ravioli and Beef-a-Roni, or at least that is what I told myself. When Mr. Boyarde wasn't available, there was always Franco-American Spaghetti-O’s, with or with or without meatballs. Always with a side of canned Green Beans, heated in the microwave, of course, cause I only owned 1 sauce pan, and that had Spaghetti-O’s in it.
Luckily, I am older and wiser now... OK, at least the older part is true. I now try to avoid processed food, and eat fairly healthy. Yes, I am fond of Butter, Heavy Cream, Cheese and Whole Milk. But, I can safely assume that since humanity has been eating these foods for a thousand years, on some level our digestion has adapted over time to deal with them in a proper manner…
Much easier, at least, than the NEW “foods” of the last 75 years, such as --
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG – Flavor enhancer)
- Potassium Hydrogen Sulfite (Preservative)
- Propylene Glycol (Humectant - keeps food from drying out)
- Magnesium Gluconate (Strengthens food for production – canned fruits)
- Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (Meat replacer)
- Hydrogenated Plant oils (Plastic in your liver anyone?)
- Protein Isolates (Meat replacer)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (in everything)
- Polydimethylsiloxane (anti-foaming agent in soda)
- Calcium Propionate, (Preservative)
- Sodium Pyrophosphate (Thickener - see Jell-O Pudding Cups)
Sorry, I’ll take the real butter… That is my personal choice.
Now, all that aside, I STILL have a soft spot for Spaghetti-O’s, even though I know they are horrible, I just like ‘em. It reminds me of a simpler time. But in an effort to control my intake of unnecessary food toxins, I have opted to, instead, create my own version of Spaghetti-O’s, using my own sauce, cheddar cheese (Yes, there is cheddar in Spaghetti-O’s, go figure) and Anelli (Anelletti pl.).
Yeah, Franco-American did not invent that particular pasta shape as a marketing ploy or anything, it’s made with a ring shaped pasta from Sicily, properly called anelli siciliani.
As far as the spaghetti sauce is concerned, I found a great recipe years ago and have modified to my own taste several times. It simmers for 6 hours before I package it up in 1 quart freezer bags and store when I need it. So if you are interested in a really good “Slow Cooked Tomato Sauce” go ahead and check it out. I do, however, believe that any decent jarred Marinara will work for this just as well...
This is what I did… It was close, but I think it needed more salt and a little sugar, as my sauce isn’t really all that sweet. (Spaghetti-O's contain High Fructose Corn Syrup - Don't ask me why)
Spaghetti-O's From Scratch
1 lb Anelli
1 3/4 cups Marinara Sauce (You may want to adjust the sweetness by adding a little sugar)
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt (You may want to increase this)
2 TB Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Medium or Sharp Cheddar; Shredded
Cook Pasta according to package directions.
Place sauce in a saucepan and heat over low flame, and add salt.
Add Heavy Cream and stir to combine.
Once heated begin adding the Cheddar, stirring to melt.
Place drained pasta in a bowl
Pour sauce over the top and Toss to combine
Or with Parmegiano-Reggiano...