January 05, 2011


Hey Stéphane.
When you were in Chicago 10 days ago I made a spaghetti Bolognese that the whole family enjoyed.
But I told you while we were eating it that a month ago, when I was at J.P`s in Paris, his family asked me, as it is the case everytime I go there, to do my Spaghetti Provençale,which is much more interesting than the Bolognese. It is not very complicated but the prep requires a little more time than for the Bolognese.
Since I promised you to send that recipe, here it is.
I had published a slightly different version on this blog in 2006.
This version is the one I do everytime nowadays.
Let me know what you think once you have done it at home.


Original recipe by Alain

I have been doing this recipe, that I modified a few times, for many years and my family and friends always ask me to do it again and again when they visit or I go to their place..

I  do the tomato sauce from fresh plum tomatoes in the summer, and I add   about 6 peeled canned whole plum tomatoes from the San Marzano region in Italy. (I use the Bella Terra brand from Racconto that I find at Fresh Farms International in Niles). In the winter I use peeled cannned whole plum tomatoes exclusively.
But when I am in a hurry a ready- to- use marinara spaghetti sauce in a jar (the Traditional Marinara Sauce from Trader Joe's) works fine too.
If you decide to use the canned peeled plum tomatoes, for 4 people use almost two 28 oz cans of them and make sure you cut the hard tip where the stem used to be, and seed them before coarsely chopping them.

Here is the simplified easy version of my recipe:


For 4 people:

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes


• One 1 Lb package and 1 quarter of (thin) Spaghetti (I prefer the Italian brand Racconto or Trader Joe’s Organic)

• 2 large peeled yellow onions, chopped

• 5 large cloves of garlic, American not Chinese,  peeled and diced. Remove central greenish sprout if any before dicing.

• 5 sprigs of fresh tyme or 1 1/2 table spoon of dried thyme.

• 12 to 15 pitted Kalamata black olives, remove the brine by gently boiling them for 2 or 3 minutes.

• One 18 oz jar of Tomato Marinara sauce , with or without basil,  (I buy Trader Joe’s cheap but good Traditional Marinara Sauce)

• 1/2 Lb of ground round beef (buy a little more if you have to feed hungry young men)

• 4 or 5 medium-size very fresh and clean white mushrooms (sliced)

• 2 tablespoon of Italian tomato paste. I like the imported Italian paste in aluminum soft tubes, but any canned Italian import will do.

• 1/2 a cup of extra-Virgin olive oil (I use the Martini`s Greek 100% Kalamata from Trader Joe's )

• Half a bottle (about 2 cups) of a dry rosé wine with some fruit like a ''Vieille Ferme'' rosé ($ 6.99), or Ferme Julien Rosé from T J's ($ 5.99). If you want to go a little fancier, get a bottle of Costières de Nimes rosé like Grande Cassagne (about $ 9.00) .

• 1 large bay leaf

• Salt and pepper

• 1/2 a teaspoon of Cayene pepper

Cooking the sauce:

Chop onions and dice garlic, then gently sauté them together with a teaspoon of thyme in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, in an  12 inches ''Calphalon'' or other good quality non-stick pan for about 12 to 14 minutes at relatively low heat. They should not get brown, but become soft and translucent.

If mushrooms are clean and very young, lightly brush them to remove any leftover dirt, cut the stem halfay and slice them. If they are not clean, have some dirt, and the stem is brownish and getting spongeous, cut 80% of the stem and gently peel the outer skin of the cap with a sharp small knife starting from underneath , close to the stem. Then slice them. Save them on a plate for later.

Sauté the ground beef in a small pan in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stir it all the time with a wooden spoon to transform the beef chunks in tiny little balls. Remove the oil and water left over after cooking is completed. The ground beef should be gray and not red anymore. Save on a plate but do not refrigerate.

Pour the tomato sauce from the jar into the pan where the onion and garlic has been cooked, add the bay leaf, stir and bring to a gentle simmer. Add 2 cups of rose wine and stir well . Add 2 tablespoons of the tomato paste, stir well. Cook uncovered over low heat for about 8 minutes, then add the sliced mushrooms. Cook for 5 more minutes then add the meat and the olives. Then season with 4 rounds of the pepper mill and 2 pinches of salt. Add the cayenne pepper. stir. Cook uncovered very gently for 10 more minutes.

Cooking the pasta:

While preparing the sauce, boil 5 quarts of water in a high stainless-steel pot, like a pasta cooker. When water is boiling add one tablespoon of olive oil and one teaspoon of sea salt in the water. Add  the spaghetti (I cut them in half) and immediately stir the pasta with a big spaghetti special-dented spoon so that the pasta does not stick together. When the spaghetti are all separated bring back to a boil and count about 10 to 11 minutes for '' al dente'' .

Pour the pasta in a colander and then in a big round bowl, add a table spoon of olive oil and stir well. Add the sauce on top of the pasta and stir well.

And that's it.

Bon appetit


  1. Je suis ravi qu'elle ait marché pour vous.
    Etes-vous dans la restauration?

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