Spinach and Mushroom Marinara with (or without) Meatballs

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This Spinach and Mushroom Marinara is simple, comes together really quickly, and the results are delicious! Serve it with or without meatballs.

Spinach and Mushroom Marinara with (or without) Meatballs
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Spinach and Mushroom Marinara

When I was growing up, my mom bought spaghetti sauce in a jar and that was fine, but I would  beg her to let me “doctor it up.” I would sauté all kinds of things like mushrooms, peppers, carrots, and onion, then add the jarred sauce, extra seasonings, and a can of diced tomatoes. Just a few little changes made all the difference to that store-bought sauce, and I loved making the change.

Now that I’m cooking on my own, I’ve realized that making pasta sauce from scratch doesn’t take much more effort than “doctoring” that jarred stuff. The idea is the same, but I skip all the extra ingredients in the jarred sauce that I don’t want (lots have a heavy hand of high fructose corn syrup in them) and just use plain-Jane canned tomato sauce and a jar of home canned whole tomatoes (if you didn’t can tomatoes last summer, you’ll use diced tomatoes from the store). It’s simple, comes together really quickly, and the results are delicious. The recipe I have for you today, Spinach and Mushroom Marinara with (or without) Meatballs, is full of spinach and mushrooms, both ingredients that are in season right now. The spinach cooks down beautifully and just looks like you used a heavy hand of fresh basil and the mushrooms add great depth of flavor. Not a mushroom fan? Chop them up nice and small and I promise you won’t even know they are in there. And if you have kids in the kitchen, mushroom chopping is a great job for them. Soft mushrooms cut well with just a butter-knife so even your younger kids can help.

Thoughts on meatballs:

This spinach and mushroom marinara is excellent without the addition of meatballs, but the meatballs also make it really fun. This is my normal meatball recipe – the recipe picture is old, don’t laugh. I like to make a double or triple batch of them and stick lots in the freezer after they are baked. I just toss the cooked and still frozen meatballs in the sauce and let it gently simmer until the center of the meatballs are heated through. You could also use store-bought precooked meatballs and that adds no extra work on your part (I toss them in frozen too).

Here’s that gorgeous infographic (that makes a great desktop background!) that Becky from Vintage Mixer put together. Who knew mushrooms had a season?! I love taking a long look at this seasonal produce guide every month. Now I have a better idea of what will taste the best and will often be on sale this time of year.

What's in Season in March

Tips and Tricks for making Spinach and Mushroom Marinara:

  • You could also use store-bought precooked meatballs and that adds no extra work on your part (I toss them in frozen too)
  • Not a mushroom fan? Chop them up nice and small and I promise you won’t even know they are in there. And if you have kids in the kitchen, mushroom chopping is a great job for them.

How do you know when pasta is al dente?

Al dente in Italian means “to the tooth”. The basic idea is cooking dried pasta so that it retains a bit of firmness to the bite and is not overcooked. Another trick, throw the pasta against the wall — if it sticks, it is done.

Should you rinse pasta?

Don’t rinse your pasta. If you don’t rinse, your sauce will stick to your pasta better because of the starch that is released into the water.

What can I add to pasta water?

I like to add a generous amount of salt to my water before I throw the pasta in.

Spinach and Mushroom Marinara with (or without) Meatballs
This Spinach and Mushroom Marinara is simple, comes together really quickly, and the results are delicious! Serve it with or without meatballs.
No ratings yet

Spinach and Mushroom Marinara with (or without) Meatballs

This Spinach and Mushroom Marinara is simple, comes together really quickly, and the results are delicious! Serve it with or without meatballs.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms washed and chopped or sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes or 1 quart home-canned tomatoes, (14-ounce)
  • 2 can tomato sauce, (14-ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds cooked meatballs, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound hot cooked spaghetti, or pasta of your choice
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Instructions 

  • In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, chopped spinach, and mushrooms and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and the tomato sauce as well as the sugar and all of the seasoning.
  • Stir to combine and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. If you are going to add precooked meatballs, do that now. Cook until the meatballs are hot all the way through.
  • Salt and pepper to taste and then serve over hot cooked pasta with grated Parmesan.

Notes

  • This spinach and mushroom marinara is excellent without the addition of meatballs, but the meatballs also make it really fun.
  • You could also use store-bought precooked meatballs and that adds no extra work on your part (I toss them in frozen too)
  • Not a mushroom fan? Chop them up nice and small and I promise you won’t even know they are in there. And if you have kids in the kitchen, mushroom chopping is a great job for them.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 of 8 servings, Calories: 534kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 61mg, Sodium: 1047mg, Potassium: 1284mg, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 2281IU, Vitamin C: 29mg, Calcium: 114mg, Iron: 5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Here’s a few more pasta dishes I think you’ll enjoy:

Enjoy this simple, family friendly Spinach and Mushroom Marinara meal from my kitchen to yours.

About Melissa

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7 Comments

  1. M says:

    This is so good. The fact that I love to cook and am visiting my vegan daughter means I am on the hunt for special vegetable dishes. Today I found this recipe because I felt like a pasta and tomato sauce. This is the best spaghetti sauce I have ever made!

    Thank you for this easy and delicious recipe.

  2. Liren says:

    I feel the same way when it comes to doctoring up a simple tomato sauce! I just love how this is full of mushrooms and spinach. Oh, and those meatballs? Yesss.

  3. Carrian says:

    Wonderful!

  4. foodiecrush says:

    Everyone gets so uppity about making tomato sauce, overthinking it and avoiding it because they’re afraid its going to take all day long and a few more. But in reality, like you’ve just proven, it’s probably the simplest thing ever. Love the fresh shrooms and spinach, I add them to pretty much everything too 🙂

  5. Becky says:

    I WILL be using this marinara recipe asap!! I didn’t can tomato sauce last fall and I kicked myself for it all winter!

  6. Kelley {mountain mama cooks} says:

    That sauce! I’m all about sneaking in veggies when I can and as much as spring is here, I’m still hoping for some more snow and cold weather. This is the perfect hybrid meal- still comforting and warming but with all that veggie goodness!

  7. laurengrier says:

    I never met a meatball I didn’t like! I’m diving in!