Yesterday’s summery spring day turned into today’s rainy spring day. Gray days make me crave comfort food, you know, those dishes that are a little more hearty. Feeling, I wanted something I could make quick. I had a thawed bit of hamburger so I figured I should make something of it. Burritos? Nope. No tortillas. Chili? No crackers or sour cream (condiments I like on my chili) Meat sauce? I did have tomatoes.
Making meat sauce from scratch is a lot easier than you might think. Now, this is by no means an authentic Italian meat sauce. This is just a combination of flavors that work for me.
- 1-2 pints canned tomatoes (depending on how tomato-y you like your sauce)
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced ( I like garlic. A lot)
- 1 1/2 T dried onion (I like the 2 onion flavors)
- dried Italian herbs, to taste (about 1 t)
- seasoned salt, about 1 t (my “secret” ingredient)
- 1 1/2 T tomato paste. Italian. In a tube (less waste, better flavor)
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- 3/4 lb ground beef (or pork, or mix)
- Noodles of your liking (but choose something sturdy like spaghetti or rigatoni)
Brown the beef in a large skillet. About halfway through, add onion and garlic. While it’s browning, start your pasta. When the beef is browned, add tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for about a minute. This intensifies the tomato paste flavor. This is why you want the good stuff. Add the tomatoes. I use my own canned. They are in chunks, so I crush them by hand as I add them in. This gives the sauce a nice rustic feel. Add in your seasoning. Obviously, adjust to your own taste. Let the sauce simmer while the pasta cooks. When the pasta is almost done, add it to the skillet and cook for another few minutes. This allows the sauce to really combine with the noodles.
All told, I think this took me about 1/2 hour to make. I used a basic skillet and a saucepan (for the noodles.) Why bother getting out the big stockpot. This “recipe” really is just a guideline to show how easy it is to make a quick sauce. Play with the flavors. Add whatever seasoning you like. I’ve been known to add grated carrots to it when I add the onions. They cook down to almost nothing, and they add a bit of natural sweetness. And it really is cheaper in the long run. You may never use the jarred stuff again. That’s my hope, anyway. Not to be a downer, but have you read the ingredients list on one of those? Yikes!
So, there you go. Give it a try. I dare ya.