Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Weeknight Inspiration: Easy Pasta Sauce

There's nothing out of the ordinary that happens with my meat pasta sauce (other than the diced carrots - more in a minute) but everyone has their "famous" meat sauce.  My problem with it is that people tend to make it in a pot big enough to feed an army and then I get sick to death of having pasta and meat sauce as leftovers (and that is coming from a girl who loves leftovers and takes them to lunch every day!).  This makes just the right amount and can be tweaked anyway you like it.  The thing I like to add to mine that's a little different is a cup of diced carrots.  It is a trick I learned from my friend Alan.  I never thought about having carrots in a sauce but I like the sweetness of it, the color that it adds, and not to mention it is one more veggie in the dish!  Try it.

The longer this sauce simmers, the better it is.  If you have time you can fix it the night before and then put it on right when you get home from work and let it simmer until you are ready to eat supper.

Weeknight Pasta Meat Sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey - whatever you prefer)
1 white onion, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup carrots, diced
2 cans diced tomatoes (16 oz. each)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup red wine
salt and pepper
approximately 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh oregano, chopped
freshly shredded or grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp olive oil

Heat a large pot and add olive oil.  Once the oil is warm, add the onion, garlic and carrots and cook until tender.  Add the ground beef. 

Season with salt and pepper and brown meat until it is cooked all the way through.  Add red wine and red pepper flakes and simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Add the canned tomatoes and sauce.  If you have fresh ones on hand that you need to use up, sometimes I like to toss those in too.  Add the oregano and half of the fresh basil.  Save the rest of the basil for garnish.  Cover and simmer for as long as you've got time for.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water to al dente.  Serve the sauce over the pasta and top with fresh basil and cheese.

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