Mariani Family’s Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Lorena Mariani shared this family spaghetti sauce recipe alongside instructions for her holiday dried fruit house in a newspaper feature many years ago. The original made enough to feed a small village (or the whole Mariani clan), so we’ve updated portions to feed a small family, but we’ve kept all of the flavors from the Mariani Family tradition.

Like every great sauce, there’s some patience required, but the wait is worth it–this spaghetti sauce is meaty, rich in flavor, with just a touch of sweetness from the prunes. 

Servings: 8-10 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:


  • 2 lbs. ground chuck beef
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • ½ lb porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 4 bunches green onions, sliced (use the whole onions)
  • 2 28-oz. cans whole plum tomatoes, crushed 
  • 1 ½ cups chicken or beef broth
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley, plush more for garnish
  • 1 ½ tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1 ½ tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp ground celery seed
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp fresh-cracked black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 oz. bourbon
  • ½ cup Riesling or half-sweet white wine
  • 8 pitted California prunes
  • Fresh-grated Parmesan cheese for garnish


Warm a large skillet over medium heat, then add the ground beef and Italian sausage, breaking up large pieces. Once the fat from the meat starts to render, use a wooden spoon to stir and continue breaking apart any larger clumps. Add in the mushrooms and scrape the pan. When the meat is mostly browned, stir in the green onions and continue cooking until thoroughly wilted. Drain off most of the grease and set the meat and mushroom mixture aside.

In a large Dutch oven or sauce pot, add the tomatoes with their liquid, chicken or beef broth, minced garlic, parsley, chopped herbs, spices, and bay leaves. Crush the tomatoes to break them apart, then stir in the reserved meat, mushrooms, and cooked onions. 

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in the bourbon, white wine, and prunes, then lower the heat to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adjusting seasoning to taste.

To serve the spaghetti sauce:

Serve with fresh-cooked pasta noodles–spaghetti works great, but we like the way tagliatelle holds onto more of the sauce. Garnish with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley and serve! 

Spaghetti Sauce with pasta


More family recipes from California Prunes Growers:

Once you’ve mastered the Mariani family’s spaghetti sauce (or while it’s cooking!) try these recipes from our growers:

Definitely try the Mariani Family’s Ideas for Gingerbread House Decorating with California dried fruits & nuts too!