Belgian… spaghetti.

Yeah, not waffles, not chocolate. Belgian Spaghetti — Student Style, specifically.

I adapted the recipe just slightly from Everyone Eats Well In Belgium. I got the recipe from FreshDirect’s collection, and let me tell you, if all recipes are as good as this one was, I’m going to have to buy the book. ((Oof! Maybe not — the book is out of print and being sold for a whopping $59.95 on Amazon. Cripes.))

I roughly doubled the recipe, and omitted a few things I didn’t have. Here it is:

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions, chopped
1/2 pound white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 pound lean ground beef
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh parsley
2 cans (14 ounces) peeled whole plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound thin spaghetti
Freshly grated Gruyère cheese
Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)

1. Heat the olive oil in a deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, mushrooms, and carrots; cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add half the garlic and all the ground beef. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring and breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink.

2. Stir in the sugar, oregano, thyme, basil, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the red wine, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes.

3. Stir in the remaining garlic. (This garlic added at the end gives the sauce a fresher, more pronounced garlic taste.) Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add some Tabasco sauce, if you like.

4. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the spaghetti and distribute among 4 bowls. Spoon the sauce over the spaghetti and serve. Pass the grated Gruyère cheese along with a bottle of Tabasco sauce.

Notes: Kate and I suffer from the same affliction, which Kate calls “garlic panic.” “Whenever a recipe calls for garlic,” she says, “I add an extra clove or two because I am afraid that it won’t be garlicky enough for me.” Well, Kate, I think our garlic panic is cured — step 3 of this recipe was a freakin’ revelation. Adding more garlic at the end of cooking the sauce was brilliant. Also, I would have ordinarily considered adding Tabasco to spaghetti sauce to be downright heretical, but on this, it really worked.