Spaghetti is one of my favorite meals, both to make and to eat. It used to be a weekly regular around our table until we all got a little tired of it. Now, even though it’s so simple to prepare, it always seems like a special treat.
The meat sauce that I make to go with our spaghetti fits so perfectly with cooking methods. I like to mix up a big pot in the morning and let it simmer all day so that the flavors really develop. By dinner time, the simple ingredients really turn into something special.
And I love that it is so easy to mix things up based on what I have in the refrigerator. Sometimes the sauce will be just basic with meat, tomato sauce and seasonings. However, it usually includes onion, green peppers and garlic. When I have extra veggies on hand – either zucchini, carrots, spinach or mushrooms – I like to add some of those in too, whether by themselves or in combination. The possibilities are endless. Plus, it’s a great way to sneak some extra veggies into the kids in a way I know will get eaten without fail.
We usually go the traditional route – meat sauce over spaghetti. But a lot of times we also do the meat sauce over elbow. (Which I always call spaghetti mac and which my husband always insists is wrong because the “spaghetti” part refers to the noodles and not the sauce. I guess he’s right, but it’s still spaghetti mac to me.)
This recipe is for my favorite version of my meat sauce. It includes all of our favorite flavors, plus a little extra veggies thrown in for good measure. You can definitely mix it up by omitting or adding other ingredients as well. This is definitely one recipe to play around with to your family’s liking.
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 15 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1 4 oz. can tomato paste
- 1/2 c. beef stock, optional
- 3 t. Italian seasoning (or an equal amount of basil, oregano and thyme combined)
- 2 t. sugar
- 1/2 – 1 t. salt, to taste
- 1/2 t. black pepper
- 1/8 t. allspice
- 1 bay leaf
1. In a large skillet or saucepan, add ground beef with the onions, green pepper, garlic and zucchini. Season with 1/2 t. salt and the crushed red pepper flakes. Cook until browned; drain.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. Continue cooking over medium heat until it just starts to bubble. Cover, reduce heat and simmer as long as you like. (NOTE – If you do not use the beef stock, you may need to thin the sauce a bit with the pasta cooking water before serving.) Serve over pasta and enjoy.
Do you have a favorite recipe for meat sauce? Are there any special or secret ingredients that make your sauce the best? I realize it’s a very personal thing that varies widely depending on tastes, sort of like chili. Although I think mine is the best! 🙂