Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Basic Meat Marinara Sauce

Maybe it's the gloomy weather or just that I feel like Fall is on its way, but I have been craving some warm and comforting food for the last few days. So last night I made one of my all-time faves: spaghetti.

My mom taught me to make homemade meat sauce when I was young and over the years I've been perfecting my own adaptation. Since we're currently only feeding two, it makes a bunch of leftovers that we either eat throughout the week, use in other recipes (upcoming) or freeze for later. You know spaghetti sauce only gets better when it's left over!

Spaghetti is an easy, healthy meal. Just make sure you start with the right ingredients. I make mine with extra lean beef (96% lean ground beef from Trader Joe's) and use whole wheat noodles. You can cook it on the stove or brown the beef and let the crockpot do the rest of the work. Serve with some steamed broccoli or a salad and you've got a complete meal. Pasta is bad for you? What a myth!

So I'm sharing my secret recipe with you in hopes that you'll enjoy it as much as I do. The weather man says the heat will be sticking around until October. But at least last night, I was pretending it was Fall.  :)

Meat Marinara Sauce
Makes 8 servings.

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 8 large mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 pound 96% lean ground beef
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, low-sodium (Hunt's No Salt Added)
  • 1 can tomato sauce, low-sodium (Hunt's No Salt Added)
  • 1 can tomato paste, low-sodium
  • 1 can water
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder (that's the secret ingredient)
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Sautee onion and pepper until onion begins to turn translucent. 
  3. Add beef to pot, seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir and "chop" with a spoon until the beef is in bite-sized pieces and brown.
  4. Add mushrooms and stir occasionally until they soften.
  5. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir and bring to gentle boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Liz's Tips:
  • Serve on top of whole wheat pasta.
  • If you prefer to cook your sauce in the crockpot, follow steps 1 through 4. Then add the beef mixture and all remaining ingredients to the crockpot. Heat on low for at least 4 hours.
  • Refrigerate leftovers for 5 days. Or freeze in 2 to 4 cup portions in freezer bags. I like to make leftovers on purpose (you can double the above recipe if needed) so I have sauce ready for my Penne Pasta Bake or Stuffed Shells with Kale...coming soon.
  • You can substitute all or half of the beef for ground turkey breast and it still tastes great!
  • Omit the meat all together and you've got a yummy vegetarian version, or just a nice marinara.

Nutrition Facts (per 1 1/2 cups): Calories 130 | Total Fat 3g | Saturated Fat 1.5g | Sodium 175mg | Carb 13g | Fiber 3g | Protein 14g.

Download printable copy here.