The other day I wrote a post on how to roast a spaghetti squash, its really easier than you might think! And my sister asked me to share my easy tomato and meat sauce recipe. Honestly I have a few different ways of making this sauce, its kind of a whatever is in the fridge kind of recipe. I have made this with ground beef, pork, and turkey; Italian sausage (remove casing); without meat; bacon; and all combinations! I usually mix in whatever veggies I have on hand that I think will be good. Such as, spinach, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, and eggplant. Its really an add whatever sort of recipe! Just cook as the spirit moves you
When we got married the Hubby told me that he didn’t like spaghetti and red sauce. I made him spaghetti squash with this fresh tomato sauce and it turns out he just doesn’t like boxed pasta and jarred red sauce. And can’t say I blame him. I’m not a huge fan either. I much prefer spaghetti squash and a homemade meat sauce. There is something about a fresh tomato sauce that just hits that sentimental, comfort food spot.
Its really not hard to put this sauce together. Not much more work than heating up a jar of sauce, especially if you get grape tomatoes and don’t cut them in half. You can also get precut zucchini and bags of baby spinach that you just dump in the pot.
Like I said, this recipe is a bit of a make it work situation. (Love me some Tim Gunn!) So I am going to give you my favorite version of the recipe and then list out the variations below the recipe. Sound good? If you have any questions please leave a comment. Also if you have any suggestions please leave a comment and I will add them to the list.
Simple Fresh Tomato and Meat Sauce
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 sweet onion (optional)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed (see note)
- 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil (or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
In a large skillet, sauce pot or Dutch oven, sauté your olive oil, garlic and onion until the onion is translucent. Add the beef and sausage and brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the tomatoes are cooked. Spoon on top of pasta, veggie needles, or spaghetti squash, or just eat on its own.
- Bacon – Chop bacon and precook it until crisp. Remove from pan and let drain on paper towels. Cook the rest of the ingredients and stir bacon in right before serving.
- Meat Combinations – I like mixing a couple different meats, it adds huge depth of flavor. Try ground turkey, pork, or beef. Try mild and hot Italian sausage, just remove the casing. Also try putting some bacon into your food processor and adding that to some beef and brown it up! Prosciutto and pancetta are great too, slice it and toss it in with your sauce. Or chop up some pepperoni or salami.
- No Italian Sausage? – If you aren’t using Italian sausage just add: 1 T fennel seeds, 1 T granulated garlic, 1 T dried oregano, 2 t salt, 1/2 t red pepper flakes, and 1/4 t cayenne pepper (recipe from Primal Cravings, by Megan McCullough Keatley & Brandon Keatley)
- Veggies – One of my favorite things to do is grill or oven roast a ton of veggies (summer squash, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers) for dinner one night and then later that week add them to spaghetti sauce. If they are already cooked its much faster to toss them into the sauce and heat them up. If you have raw veggies, just let them simmer in the sauce for a while, its okay if they are a little crunchy. I also really love chopped carrots and baby spinach in spaghetti sauce.
- Fresh Herbs – I love this dish with fresh herbs. It just kicks the flavors up. If you have fresh basil chop some up and sprinkle on the top.
- Roasted Garlic – Cut the top off of a whole head of garlic and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Cover with foil and roast in the oven at 400F for about 30. It will be sweet and garlicky, and oh so yummy! You can squeeze the cloves out of the peels with no effort, then chop and add to the simmering sauce.
- Canned Tomatoes – Of course you can use canned tomatoes, a can or two will do you fine. But be warned it won’t have the same fresh flavor.
- Other Tomatoes Varieties – I have used pretty much all kinds of tomatoes in this recipe. Roma’s are quite good, and so are any of the heirlooms. Just chop them into bite-sized chunks.