Family memories with bolognese sauce

Maria Gutzeit dishes up fettuccine noodles as she creates her "mom's spaghetti and meat sauce". Dan Watson/The Signal
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While Maria Gutzeit was growing up, one of ones she looked forward to was pasta with bolognese sauce made by her mother, Ledlie Gutzeit.

“My mom made this in my dinner rotation growing up for us as kids,” said Gutzeit, who’s currently vice president of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency’s governing board. “It was always a favorite of mine.”

One of the reasons the meal is particularly special to Gutzeit is because one of the last meal’s she had with her mom.


Maria Gutzeit adds sauce to fettuccine noodles as she creates her “mom’s spaghetti and meat sauce”. Dan Watson/The Signal


“There was a brief moment at Christmas time, when she was out of the care facility and she said, ‘I’d love to have a normal dinner and a glass of wine — wink, wink,’” Gutzeit recalled. “It was nice to have a ‘normal’ meal with her; we sort of went full circle. It was one of the last meals I cooked with her.”

However, for Maria, the memories live on in part through the recipe, which she now makes for her family.

“You hear about parents and working people, ‘We don’t have time to cook,’” Gutzeit said, citing the oft-heard dilemma. “This is a great thing to make a giant pot of, and then you can freeze it — and you can make spaghetti, we take it with us camping.”

One of the tips she shared from the recipe, when it comes time to freeze the sauce, is to seal it in a 1-quart sized plastic bags, as that’s “about two servings of sauce, and it’s really easy to defrost.”


Maria Gutzeit puts “mom’s spaghetti and meat sauce” into a freezer bag for later. Dan Watson/The Signal


The recipe:
1-1/3 to 1-1/2 pounds 85 percent to 95 percent lean ground beef

1-1/2 to 2 cups EACH coarsely chopped celery and onion (I like organic celery for flavor)

2 small or 1 large (40 oz.) jar your favorite marinara sauce (Trader Joe’s Tomato-Basil or Victoria from Costco)

1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with juice (organic has good flavor)

1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano

1 cup water if too thick

1/4 cup dry red wine (zinfandel or merlot) if desired


Brown meat in a large pot, stirring to crumble. Add chopped celery and onion and a splash of water to steam/stir until tender.  Add remaining ingredients up to wine. Simmer for 20 minutes- 1 hour. Add wine in last 10 minutes. Serve over spaghetti or fettuccine with fresh parmesan.



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