Today, we happen to be cooking a family favorite! Spaghetti!
Side Note: Does anyone else think it's weird that we refer to this dish by the name of the noodle, when really it's all about the sauce? It's a little late to change the name and all, but in my house I like to think of it as red gravy, as the Italians would.
Back to the subject at hand: It seems like most people have a family recipe for marinara, or spaghetti sauce or red gravy. I didn't growing up, my parents would just throw some Prego in a pan and add a bit of onion and garlic powder. It was always thin and watery and didn't stick to the noodles like I wanted it to. So as I got older I began experimenting with my recipe and realized it's all about what you use as a base. I always thought it was the meat that made the sauce thick, but over time i've come to realize that it's much more than that.
So, I'm going to share with you my sauce recipe. Don't be scared by all the vegetables, they are what makes the sauce thick and savory and tasty! Just get out your food processor and trust me.
You will need:
Extra virgin olive oil.
half an onion
2-3 celery stalks
3-4 cloves of garlic
5-6 sweet peppers. Red, orange or yellow will work.
1 pound ground meat (use whatever you prefer)
2- 26 ounce cans of tomato sauce (give or take a few ounces)
1. Clean your veggies as you normally would and remove stems, leaves and other inedible parts. Keep in mind, you can also use carrots and zucchini in this recipe if you wish.
2. Get your big soup pot out and put it on the stove over medium heat. Put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and let it start heating up. I start by pressing my garlic in the pan. While that cooks, I start sending my veggies through the food processor.
3. Starting with the onion, cut it into chunks and put it in the food processor. You will want to "pulse" until it's somewhere in between being chopped and pureed. Throw the onion in the pan with the garlic and oil. Next I do the celery, then the sweet peppers, seed and all. Once all your veggies are in the pan you will want to let them sauté for about 15 minutes. I season with pepper, a dash of salt and some chopped basil, then add a pound of ground turkey, or sausage or beef or elk if your feeling wild. Let the veggies and the meat simmer together till they know each other real well--about 10 minutes.
4. Once your meat's cooked through you will add your sauce. You can use plain old canned tomato sauce, or you can blend up some whole canned tomatoes, or even a jar of basic marinara sauce. I always use the Hunt's brand plain pasta sauce. Once you've stirred in your sauce, bring the mixture to a simmer and cover. Reduce the heat to low, so that it simmers ever so gently and leave it be for an hour or so.
After about 15 minutes I recommend tasting the sauce. The meat and vegetables add a lot of flavor, so be careful not to over season. It won't need more than a pinch or two of salt.
The rest is up to you! Choose your noodle, toast some garlic bread and enjoy!
You may have noticed this recipe makes a lot of sauce. I always make extra so that I can freeze half for a quick dinner. It's super easy to re-heat, just let it thaw in the fridge, throw it in a pan and let it simmer back to life.