I typically post recipes on Saturday’s, but there’s not much typical about life right now in our house. Ha! So here ya go on a Monday…
With temperatures cooling down, we’re heating things up in the kitchen! There is little food I enjoy more than a simple dinner of pasta and sauce. It’s like the ultimate comfort food. We tackled marinara sauce in Culinary Quest #6 Pasta Marinara with Parmesan Panko Chicken, but sometimes a hearty, meaty sauce is just the thing for a cool evening’s dinner.
My entire life I only knew hamburger meat, or perhaps a mixture of hamburger and sausage, for a meat sauce. However, hamburger (in my opinion) is bland and spongy and just blah. This time, I broke out of my box and used mild Italian sausage – taking the risk that only using sausage may prove too dominant against the backdrop of the other flavors.
The risk was totally worth it! Goodbye hamburger – hello sausage! It has the perfect amount of fennel and other spices to make this sauce nicely robust. But, there is a trick. I ground the sausage so finely, it is perfectly blended in the sauce. Rather than this being a pasta sauce with sausage chunks, the sauce is a smooth blend that can be used over noodles and in any recipe calling for sauce (lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, ravioli, etc.).
This is hands-down our family’s new favorite! Bonus…when making this from scratch, you get to pick exactly which meat goes in your sauce – unlike jarred meat sauce. I like knowing exactly what is in my food. 🙂 And, the whole house smells so good while simmering that everyone is chomping at the bit by dinnertime. Double bonus!
I would have included a picture, but we ate it all! :O The next time I make it, I will come back and post a photo. Whoops!
Savory Pasta Meat Sauce (yields a full-sized slow cooker)
2 pounds mild Italian sausage
1c diced, fresh basil (measured after dicing) – Fresh is important! I do not recommend dried basil for this sauce.
1/3c olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
3/4c pureed onion (I use sweet onions)
28oz crushed tomatoes
28oz tomato puree
28oz tomato sauce
2 cans tomato paste
14.5oz diced tomatoes; drained
6 cloves garlic
* Using a large skillet on the stove top, thoroughly cook the Italian sausage. Remove from heat and let cool.
* Once cooled, place sausage in a food processor and blend until uniform.
* Puree onions in food processor until almost liquid – keeping a little texture to them.
* Add all remaining ingredients, plus sausage and onions, in a slow cooker and cook on low for 9 hours or high for 6 hours – stirring occasionally.
***TIP*** To make things easier when putting this together in the morning for dinner, cook the sausage and process it and the onions the night before. Store them in a container in the fridge and in the morning just add all ingredients in the slow cooker and you’re done!