Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner. ~ Sophia Loren
These days, the mornings are misty, the chill is nippy, and here in California, Uggs® are making their annual appearance. It is not so bone-shatteringly cold as it is in the northeast, though fear not, west-coasters have their own methods of ‘building character’. Nevertheless, whether it was ploughing diamond-strength snow (whoever said snow is soft and powdery?) or shredding the gnar, the promise of a hearty, hot meal is always welcome. Who doesn’t want to shed wet boots and socks, three layers of clothes and watch icicles melt off the tips of the nose and eyelashes in front of a large fireplace with a murmuring embracing blaze? In my household, that means clutching large warm bowls that can be enjoyed on a couch in front of the fireplace without having to get up – complete meals that fit on a plate. If the bowl has chunks of meat, all the better!
I have made numerous meat sauces. This one is adapted from The Pioneer Woman which has many beautiful photos of how to prepare this sauce. Like her, I have a secret ingredient too, which I stumbled upon accidentally one evening when I was really hungry while still making dinner.
Why I love this recipe:
- This recipe uses whole wheat spaghetti for fewer calories and more nutritional values.
- It relies on plenty of herbs to provide flavour instead of getting it from regular and fattier beef.
- It uses canned tomatoes and tomato paste for convenience without compromising on taste.
- The recipe for the sauce can be easily halved or doubled, and freezes very well.
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- Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked according to instructions
- 2 lb lean, ground beef
- 1 can (24 oz ) diced tomatoes
- 8 oz tomato paste
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 whole garlic, minced
- 1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped (reserve some for topping)
- 1 Tbsp oregano, chopped
- 1 Tbsp smooth peanut butter - Secret Ingredient!
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Cook spaghetti according to its instructions, adding some salt to the water. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot, heat 3 Tbsp of oil. Add ground beef, breaking it up to prevent clumps. When it is no longer pink, remove from the pot, set aside and drain the grease, leaving 2 Tbsp in the pot.
- Warm up the leftover grease again, caramelize onions and add peppers. Cook until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well and turn up heat till sauce just starts to boil and return heat to medium high.
- Add basil, parsley, oregano, peanut butter, sugar and salt/pepper to taste. Continue to stir for 1 minute.
- Add ground beef and bay leaves. Cook for 2 minutes, allowing flavours to meld together. Add chopped parsley and cook for another minute. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Serve over spaghetti. Top with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan (not shown).
Peanut butter adds a very subtle, mysterious and unexpected taste. Very unique!
(adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Spaghetti Sauce)