28 January 2014

Foodie Tuesday | Easy Spaghetti Sauce

When feeding a hungry horde (as in, an athletic teenage boy and his food-lovin' father) pasta is good bet. Noodles are fast, economical, nutritious and delicious... everything we could want in bowl after bowl of dinner.

If we're pressed for time I don't mind doling out pasta sauce from a jar. Some of the options on the market now are super delicious (I'm looking at you, Classico.) But homemade is always my preference, even if I do rely on some canned varieties to help me along.

Our favourite meat sauce is an adaptation of my Nanny's recipe. She often made her sauce completely from scratch but with two busy kids who have us on the go literally seven nights a week, who has time for that? Not us. So I rely on a little help from Hunt's and Aylmer to create a healthy, delicious facsimile of Nan's original, and now I'm going to share it with you!

Everything about this recipe is awesome: it's quick, it's easy, it creates exactly two dirty dishes (the pot, and the spoon), it keeps well in the fridge, and it freezes beautifully. I often make a double or triple batch when I whip up one for dinner, and freeze individual servings so they can be used for lunches (Daryn) or as quick dinners before practice (the Boy.)

It really is a miracle sauce, and now you can enjoy it too.

Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking Time: 20 minutes + 2-3 hours | Makes: 12 cups
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 1 (28 fl. oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 (680mL) cans Hunt's Thick & Rich pasta sauce
    I use two flavours (Roasted Garlic & Herbs + Spicy Red Pepper & Chilies) but you can use whichever combination you prefer
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tbsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3/4 tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • salt & pepper
  • pasta of choice
Cooking Directions:
  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 1-2 minutes until onions begin to turn translucent.
  2. Crumble ground beef into pot. Season generously with salt and pepper.
    You'll need to season three times while the meat is browning: when it's first added to the pot, again when halfway cooked, then a final time when fully browned.
  3. Cook beef, stirring occasionally to break up large chunks, until fully browned.
  4. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining ingredients (diced tomatoes through chili flakes) and stir thoroughly to combine.
  5. Simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours. Serve over your favourite pasta and garnish with fresh Parmesan cheese and basil leaves.
I did say it was easy, right? I never lie.

With the Tabasco and chili flakes the heat level is tangy but not overpowering; both my kids are pretty spice-averse and they both love it. However if you need to, the spice level is completely customizable -- add or reduce the hot elements as you see fit. It'll still taste great.


Other Foodie Tuesday pasta recipes you might like: