Quick Sauce with Capicollo & Mushrooms

About this recipe

Tomato sauces made with no meat or just cold meat are considered “quick sauce” since they don’t need to be cooked as long. This sauce is simple and extremely flavourful. After mastering this one, you might start eating spaghetti for breakfast. 


Place a large saucepot on the stove; turn heat to just under medium and fry:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil,
  • ½ cooking onion (diced),
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced, or added whole and removed before browning),
  • 1 cup Italian capicollo ham or regular cooked ham (diced),
  • 1½ tsp. basil, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. chili pepper.

When the onion looks tender, add:

  • 1 (28 oz.) can plum tomatoes (blended) and a little water,
  • 1 stalk celery,
  • 1 peeled carrot.

Turn up heat to bring to a boil. When boiling, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15-45 minutes (depending how thick your tomatoes are and how fast you want it).

After simmering, uncover and turn heat back up to medium. Then add:

  • ½ lb. fresh mushrooms (wash, place in bowl with water, microwave for 5 minutes, rinse, and add).

Simmer uncovered until the sauce looks ready (maybe 10 or 20 minutes more—don’t worry, you’ll learn). Discard the celery and carrot. 


  • If using fresh basil, add with the tomatoes.
  • Salami is good on pizza but not in spaghetti sauce.
  • Instead of mushrooms, add fresh or frozen peas (they don’t have to be nuked).
  • Fresh mushrooms are first cooked in the microwave to remove the black water from inside them. You can use canned mushrooms—but they’re nowhere near as good.
  • Buy a large chunk of capicollo ham from your local Italian deli. It will keep in the refrigerator for a long time before drying out. You can use bacon instead, in which case you’d use less oil.
  • To make Really Quick Sauce, just use olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, basil, salt, chili, and the carrot. Use fresh basil if you can and only boil for 20 minutes with the lid off (so it reduces quickly).
    To make Really Quick Sauce for another recipe (e.g., Veal Parmesan), just use olive oil, onion, tomatoes, maybe basil, salt, black pepper, and the carrot. Again, boil topless (not you—the pot) for 20 minutes.

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