Slow Simmered Spaghetti Sauce
So this weekend it’s snowing. Again. I know a bazillion people are probably still (claiming to be) knee-deep in “cleanses” and “detoxes”, but not me. I am doing a Whole30, but I consider that less of a cleanse and more like eating real food. In part, it’s a challenge to myself to see if I can live without dairy. Specifically grass fed cheese and butter. Just because I think I tolerate dairy well enough, doesn’t mean I necessarily do; after all, I used to think I had no stomach issues at all before I started eating Paleo! The fun thing is, I’ve gotten Mr Meatified along for the ride and I can see some huge differences in his health already, notably the fact that he hasn’t had to take a single stomach medication in the last three weeks. Given that he used to do so on a daily basis, I think we can tell that his tummy is a lot happier these days! Now, back to the snow: I was really craving something homey and comforting as a result of the drastic temperature drop. Not to mention the somewhat stressful situation of a family of skunks taking residence under OUR residence – let’s just say my childhood adoration of Pepe LePeu has now officially abated.
This is a great recipe because you can really adapt it to anything in your fridge vegetable-wise. It’s the kind of thing I often make as a fridge-clearer-upper. Technical term. So don’t worry if you don’t have the exact same quantities or ingredients, just throw in what you’ve got. I’ve called this a weekend recipe because it’s a fairly big batch and it really is best if you simmer it for as long as you can: at about the 2 hour mark on low the meat begins to break down into the sauce and the texture gets deliciously silky without adding any creamy ingredients at all. But if you don’t have that long, you can simmer it for about 45 minutes (or as long as it takes to roast and thread a spaghetti squash) and it’s still going to taste delicious. Whatever will work for you! Additionally, this will work just as well with pork as it does with beef or a mixture. Again, use what you have! This freezes and thaws so well I often make it just to fill the freezer with, making sure to keep a couple of single serving portions around – it’s phenomenal over eggs in the morning and makes a welcome change from “breakfast” meats.
I have a couple of pro tips for the spaghetti squash, too:
1) If you want longer “spaghetti” strands, don’t cut it lengthwise like everyone seems to tell you on the internet. Don’t believe the internet! Cut the squash clean through the middle so that each half has a stem on the end.
2) Once you’ve roasted it and it’s ready to shred, you will discover that it is approximately as hot of the sun, but you don’t want to have to wait ages before you can eat. So throw it in a bowl or tupperware container that is tall enough to hold it without tipping over onto its side, like in the picture above. That way, you can shred it with two forks without having to burn yourself because you really need a third hand with an oven glove on it to hold the fiery f-, err, sucker.
3) Once you’ve shredded the spaghetti squash, lay the strands out on a clean dish towel / paper towel or put it in a colander for a minute or so. This will help pick up some of the excess moisture which will make your sauce runny later.
- 2 lbs ground meat of your choice
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 24 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, including the juice (or you will need to substitute / add broth)
- 4 tbl Italian seasoning
- 1 tbl garlic powder
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Oil of choice to saute vegetables in
- Optional: If using pork, 1 – 2 tsp fennel seeds
- Optional: If using pork, fresh sage to finish
- Optional: If using beef, fresh oregano or rosemary to finish
- In a large pan (big enough for all ingredients to simmer later), brown the ground meat in batches and set aside. Drain / set out on paper towels to absorb excess fat if needed.
- Saute onions, peppers and carrots in a little oil added back to that same pan. Once the vegetables have softened, add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the browned meat, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, both peppers and the sliced mushrooms. Bring back to a gentle simmer, covering with a lid but allowing room for steam to escape.
- Continue to simmer for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 hours on low, adding the optional ingredients as required in the last 10 – 15 minutes before serving.
- Follow steps 1 – 3 above. When all ingredients except the optional ones have been added and while the sauce is simmering, preheat your oven to 375F.
- Line a baking tray. Cut the squash in half on the shortest side NOT lengthwise, for longer noodles. Spread the cut sides with a little oil to prevent sticking, then lay them cut side down on the baking tray.
- Roast for 30 – 45 minutes, until the edges have begun to very slightly caramelize and the squash “threads” easily with a fork.
- To thread the squash while still hot, place it in a container which will hold it upright while you remove the strands (see above picture).
- Lay the strands out on a clean towel / paper towels or in a colander for a few minutes before plating to let any excess moisture drain off and prevent the sauce being diluted.
- Plate the spaghetti strands and top with sauce. Devour immediately!