The Unexpected Ingredient That Will Majorly Upgrade Spaghetti

When you think of spaghetti, you mainly think of two major ingredients: pasta and sauce. Spaghetti is a remarkably easy dish to prepare and, as it requires only simple store-bought ingredients, is inexpensive and quick to make. The spaghetti you ate growing up was probably just boiled pasta with sauce poured on top of it, and — make no mistake — it was a perfectly good dinner. But what if you were looking for ways to change up the basic spaghetti recipe? What could you do to change something that is both so simple and so beloved?

You could try preparing your spaghetti in various ways, such as baking it in the oven or a slow cooker. You could make your own sauce, following either an online recipe such as Frank's Italian Sauce (via Food Network) or any other desired method. You can even go as far as undertaking the laborious but rewarding task of making your own noodles, which Andrew Rea of Babish Culinary Universe can help you with. It's your spaghetti — be as simple or as complex as you like.

If you're unable, for whatever reason, to prepare your own homemade noodles or pasta, you can rely on an extra ingredient to help add a bit more flavor to your dish. While being both common and inexpensive, one suggested ingredient may not have been your first idea when it came to Italian dishes, but it may have some surprising benefits.

Why add taco seasoning to spaghetti?

Okay, when you think of Italian dishes, you're probably not thinking anywhere along the lines of tacos, burritos, or any other Southwestern or Tex-Mex cuisine. But, according to Gourmandize, adding taco seasoning to your spaghetti provides a much richer and somewhat zestier flavor to your pasta. Gourmandize suggests first frying some ground beef and onions in a skillet and then adding the seasoning packet to the beef. After adding the seasoning, add a can of diced tomatoes to finish off the sauce before pouring it over your noodles.

Damaris Phillips has a similar idea, although her recipe focuses more on taco-flavored meatballs. Her recipe, via Food Network, calls for your meatballs to be made with ingredients such as cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, and your choice of chili powder or taco seasoning. This is recommended if you want to make a more traditional spaghetti and meatball dinner but still give it that famous Southwestern kick.

If you prefer to keep Italian and Southwestern cuisine separate, you can still add richness and flavor to your average jar of spaghetti sauce using other simple ingredients, such as crushed chili flakes and olive oil. Or, as Reader's Digest suggests, add red wine. Of course, it's up to you if you want to have a sweet, savory, spicy, or more traditional tasting sauce, so don't be afraid to experiment. However, no matter what you do, always try to avoid these common spaghetti mistakes.