Thursday, 30 August 2007

Pasta with Home-Style Sauce

This is my default pasta recipe, with roots back to the days of my youth when every Monday was "spugeddi" night in Canada. It's evolved since then, thank goodness, since it was mainly meat, onions and canned sauce back then. It's got a lot more going for it veggie-wise now, and it's a lighter, chunkier sauce. And of course, we're snooty and eat "pasta" instead of "spugeddi" these days. We can still eat it on a weekly basis though, and never get tired of it.

Actually, I do find that the thinner sauce and chunkier vegetables make this better with a short, blunt pasta shape that can be eaten with a spoon, rather than with something long and thin, although that will certainly do in a pinch. When I put in the mushrooms, it's often instead of the beef, although it all depends on what's lurking in the fridge. Check out Presto Pasta Nights at Once Upon a Feast for more delicious pasta from around the world.

4 servings
30 minutes - 15 minutes prep time

500 grams (1 pound +) dried pasta

1 large onion
1-2 cloves of garlic (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil (if needed)
450 grams (1 pound) lean ground beef
1 medium zucchini, grated OR l medium mild pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups quartered button mushrooms (optional)
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano

4-5 large field tomatoes OR 1 540-ml (19-ounce) tin diced tomatoes
AND 1 156-ml (5 1/2 ounce) tin tomato paste AND about 3 tablespoons ketchup

OR 1 680-ml (24-ounce) tin plain tomato sauce, plus it doesn't hurt to throw in some chunkier tomato stuff if you have any kicking around

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Peel and chop the onion, and peel and mince the garlic if using. Sauté the meat and onions in the oil until the meat is no longer pink and the onions are soft and translucent. If your meat is not super-lean, you may not need the oil; but since I use grass-fed organic beef I find it's lean enough that it sticks to the pan otherwise.

Meanwhile, wash and grate the zucchini, and peel and grate the carrot. Stir the garlic into the meat and onions, then the grated zucchini and carrot a minute or two later. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the zucchini and carrot are soft. Sprinkle the basil and oregano over, and mix in.

Peel and chop the tomatoes (you can blanch them in your pasta water) and add them to the pan of sauce. Or, dump in your tinned tomatoes and tomato paste and ketchup. Or, add the tin of sauce and stir up. (Tomato paste can be excessively acidic, and ketchup is sweet enough that a little hit will mellow it out.)

At any rate; let it all simmer together while your pasta finishes cooking. When it's done, drain the pasta and serve with the sauce.


Ruth Daniels said...

Great choice and takes me back to my childhood. My mother's spaghetti sauce was rich and very meaty. I preferred the local diner's version and called it "greebie" spaghetti. Thanks for the memory. By the way, my mom was always offended at my choice ;-D

Thanks also for sharing this healthier version with Presto Pasta Night.

Kevin said...

That looks tasty. I like the use of the zucchini.