I like simple things. I even like the word. It is in and of itself simple. Two syllables easily rolling off your tongue and landing into an ear of one who immediately sighs relief. Simple is comforting, reassuring, and hard to achieve.

Naturally I am not a simple person. I’m complex; full of nooks and crannies of insecurity, doubt, anxiety and a propensity to lean towards a half empty glass. Perhaps that is exactly the reason why I love the idea of simplicity as it is what I often strive for.


It’s the simple things that deliver great joy throughout the day. An unsolicited hug and kiss from my two year old. A never-ending smile from my girl and hearing my oldest say, “I have a great idea”, with a unique and completely wonderful project idea that only a nearly 5 year old boy could conjure up (Does anyone know how to make a Guminator? – It’s basically a canon that shoots gum onto the side of a pool, not in the grass, just on the side. Don’t ask me).

Right now Gabe is reading, Roman is sitting next to him while Baron is enthusiastically playing Lego StarWars. It’s simple, comfortable and completely perfect.

For dinner we’ll have simple spaghetti. So easy even the inventor of the Guminator could make it – with a little help from daddy.


Canned tomatoes, crushed whole cloves of garlic, a whisper of sugar, and the bright bite of fresh basil. Tossed with spaghetti and served. I prefer a light dusting of Parmesan but it’s not needed.

This meal is simplicity at its best. Using the best quality ingredients you can find, as there are only 5, will make this simple dish memorable.


Spaghetti with tomato sauce

This recipe is from The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes. Baron loves to choose what’s for dinner out of this book. The recipes are incredibly simple (sometimes a little too much but they are a great base for building on) and the illustrations are a perfect way to kids to get introduced to reading and following recipes.

Makes enough for 4 people

(we doubled it and enjoyed the little bit that was leftover for lunch)

1 14 ounce can of chopped tomatoes (I like San Marzano tomatoes)

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

2 garlic cloves

14 ounces spaghetti

10 fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste


In a medium sauce pan add the tomatoes and sugar. With a rolling pin (or the back of a chef’s knife if an adult is doing the cooking) smash the garlic, then peel and add to the tomatoes. Bring the pan to a gentle simmer, cover then cook on low for 40 minutes.

Cook the spaghetti in salted water (make it taste like the ocean) till al dente – you want it to maintain a very soft bite.

Take the sauce off of the heat and tear the basil leaves into small pieces adding them to the sauce. Finish with olive oil.

Toss the cooked noodles with the tomato sauce and serve with a pretty piece of fresh basil.

*This book was sent to me, but the opinion expressed here is my own, really I love this book.

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19 Responses to “Simple Spaghetti with tomato sauce”

  1. Aimee @ Simple Bites

    My Noah (also five) got this book for Christmas and promptly sat down and read it for thirty minutes. Then we *had* to make spaghetti, right that very minute.

    I love that you shared this recipe – and the open book shot. Aren’t the illustrations just TOO fun?

    Simplicity at it’s best, indeed.

  2. bianca

    Simplicity really is wonderful; and although I find simplicity so hard to achieve at times, when I do find it, I love it. Life uncluttered is life beautiful!

  3. Katrina

    I love simple recipes like this. They’re so tasty in the end, and so much fun to make with the right people along the way!

  4. LimeCake

    This is my favourite pantry meal! Light and so delicious. I’m going to look for this book for the big kid typing this.

  5. Vanessa

    You have a beautiful family and a great blog! You’ve definitely captured beauty of simplicity with the photos. My son Ethan is 3 1/2 and always wants to be involved when I’m in the kitchen. He instantly pulls up a chair and is ready to get his hands into whatever food creation is brewing! I will have to remember this book for my little chef in a few years!


  6. Kasey

    You’ve basically nailed one of my favorite recipes of all time. It just doesn’t get better than simple spaghetti 🙂

  7. KathyG in WA

    Hi Ashley, Have you seen the cookbook, Pretend Soup, by Molly Katzen? My boys and I really liked it. Fun healthy recipes.

    About the Guminator, we (Me and 2 of my boys who are my consultants on these things) think that a blowgun with gumballs would work fine. He would have to use it outside and never, ever shoot at people, like mothers and younger siblings. You can make a nice blowgun out of pvc pipe and cover it in colored duct tape. Use nerf darts if you are playing indoors. From the MOB (Mom of Boys)

    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Kathy – Baron and I will discuss. I’m sure he will LOVE this idea. hahaha. Thank you so much. Anything with nerf darts is a winner in this family.

  8. Stash

    Lovely recipe.

    When using canned tomatoes, one thing I like to do is slow-roast them for several hours. Lay out whole peeled canned tomatoes on a cookie sheet, sprinkled with a smidge of salt, pepper, a SCANT bit of sugar and a little olive oil. Maybe slip in a sliver or two of garlic if you like. Roast for 6 hours at 200 F, then purée in a food mill or blender and use as needed. Can be made in advance if necessary.

  9. Ines

    Nice recipe and great dinner!
    I added a few mushrooms at the end.
    Thank you for sharing!


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