on spaghetti sauce.

I hope you all are having a marvelous start to 2014, but I also hope you haven’t burdened yourselves with New Year’s resolutions that will only bring you guilt and failure. Before the ball dropped, I thought briefly about resolving to do away entirely with sugar and carbs (which I try, very hard I might add, to avoid anyway), but I’m not very good at following rules, so I didn’t make any resolutions this year after all.

However, I am trying to be as mindful as possible about what I put into my body, and that’s where this no-noodle spaghetti dinner came from.

I’m a big fan of spaghetti for multiple reasons. One, it’s a one-pot meal. Two, you don’t have to have a recipe to make it. Three, it always makes a much larger pot than I expect, which means leftovers and less meals to cook later in the week! Hurrah.

Here is how I made spaghetti recently (which I suppose is not really spaghetti, since we don’t eat any noodles anymore) and what I used:

1 ½ pounds ground beef

¾ pound Italian sausage (or three links)

1 large chopped onion (more if desired)

2 chopped green peppers

2 boxes of pre-sliced baby bellas

5 cloves minced garlic

4 bay leaves

Oregano, basil, parsley, tarragon, marjoram

2 jars of pasta sauce

1 big can of diced tomatoes

Half a little can of tomato paste

¼ teaspon cocoa powder

½ cup or so of Marsala, or any alcohol, really

(A swirl of honey, if you need a sweetener for your tart tomatoes)

salt and pepper to taste

I dumped my ground beef into a large stockpot with one large chopped onion. I’m not sure it matters terribly much what kind of beef, but I prefer ground sirloin, or whatever has a less fat percentage. If you use a higher-fat beef, then once it’s browned, just pour off the extra fat so you don’t have puddles of it floating on the top of your sauce.

Anyway, go ahead and brown your beef. If you’re really on top of things, you might add your Italian sausage at the same time (we like the kind that is freshly made, with a lot of fennel), crumbled, but I wasn’t that on top of things, so I just let my ground beef go ahead and cook. Since it wasn’t fatty, I didn’t pour any excess off, and then I added two chopped green peppers, garlic, and mushrooms.

A note on mushrooms: I love baby bellas, and I got pre-sliced because I was tired and lazy, but you can do whatever mushrooms you like. I’ve never tried any other kinds, but I would advise staying away from white button mushrooms, they just look gross to me.

I also added my jar of tomatoes at this point. I know, I know, there’s probably BPA in those cans, but I didn’t have a Mason jar of garden tomatoes on hand, so whatever. I used organic, does that count for something? And you can add your sauces at this point, too, and your sausage. Pretty much everything else on the list.

I used Marsala, but you don’t have too. Cab sav is fine, however much you want to dump in there, I would just recommend simmering your sauce uncovered if you make it really runny. You also don’t have to add cocoa powder, and you can add more than I did, but I have in my head that it deepens the sauce or something, I don’t know.

And for the herbs, you can use any you have on hand, too, but those were close by so I dumped them in. I like a lot of herbs. If you add honey, make sure you add it once your sauce has finished cooking and you’ve taken it off the heat.

We served ours over steamed green beans, tossed with olive oil and sea salt, but you can choose any veggie you like. I prefer roasted zucchini slivers, but that’s hard to come by in the dead of winter.

Happy dinner!

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