I honestly can't remember the last time I bought jarred spaghetti sauce. And I'm not trying to sound like a food snob - it's only because my family of picky eaters never cared for it. I tried every brand out there, and neither my husband, nor my kids really liked any of them. So I started experimenting with a can of plain tomato sauce - adding things to it to "doctor it up". I now have two versions of sauce that I use. This one here, which is a deliciously flavorful meat sauce, is perfect for lasagna, stuffed shells (which will be the next recipe coming up), ziti, or just to pour over a bowl of plain pasta. Using two different types of meat gives it a depth of flavor you won't find in jarred sauce, and making it from scratch gives you control over the seasonings.
The other version is a simple, meatless sauce that I use for pizza and meatballs - I will post that recipe in the near future.
Now, I should explain....since my kids are picky eaters and don't like a chunky sauce with lots of veggies in it, I chop my veggies very large. I basically just quarter the onion and pepper, throw them in the pot, and leave them there throughout the whole cooking time. They do a great job of adding flavor and sweetness to the sauce. Then, right before I serve it, I grab my tongs, and fish them out. It's a compromise - we get a sauce with good flavor and some of the nutrients have cooked out of the veggies, but my family doesn't have to deal with the texture they don't like. So, if you don't mind a chunky sauce, by all means, chop your veggies to bite-size and keep them in.
This recipe makes a nice big batch - about 6-1/2 cups or so. It freezes well too, so you can use some now and keep some in the freezer for future use.
Here's what you need:
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium green bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 8 oz. (about 2 to 3 links) of mild Italian sausage, casings removed
- 2 cans (28 oz.) tomato sauce (Be sure to use a brand that does not contain any corn syrup, sugar, or other sweeteners.)
- 1/2 c. water to rinse out the tomato sauce cans
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
Break up the meat into chunks, but don't move it around too much so that it can brown a bit. Allow the meat to cook through until no longer pink.
Drain off any excess fat. Add the tomato sauce. Rinse each tomato sauce can with about a 1/4 c. water and dump that in the pot as well.
Add the salt and sugar.
Add the Italian seasoning.
Stir all the seasonings into the sauce. Turn heat down to low and allow the sauce to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
Using tongs, remove the large pieces of onion and pepper (or leave them in if you prefer a chunky sauce). Use this sauce as a substitute for any jarred spaghetti meat sauce. Yield: 6-1/2 cups.