Cool, rainy weather makes it feel like Fall. Or maybe like Seattle. Ok, I’ve never been to Seattle, just seen it in movies and heard stories. Either way, you know it makes me feel like eating! It is weather that begs for warm comfort food: pot roast and mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese with warm garlic bread and piles of spaghetti with a rich tomato meat sauce. Nothing scares that first chill of the changing season away like a pile of pasta with melting parmesan cheese on top.
Tomato sauces are one of the simplest things to make. I think there are very few reasons to ever use a bottled tomato sauce. Even if you are using canned tomatoes, creating your own sauce is such a rewarding experience. It can be as personalized as you want to be and it doesn’t take hours, contrary to popular belief. Fresh basil, fruity olive oil, garlic, and your favorite spices and ingredients, added in quantities that you choose all create flavors as unique as you are. My favorite pasta sauce is pretty simple. I use lots of lean ground beef and freshly minced garlic. For this recipe I use the highest quality crushed tomatoes I can find. The kicker is the parmesan cheese. I always choose Parmigiano Reggiano for its buttery, nutty flavor and shave it thick on top of the hot pasta. It doesn’t take much because the flavor is so bold, so it is worth the price tag.
I am gonna leave you with my favorite sauce recipe. Remember that it is best served to and shared with friends. Don’t be afraid to make it your own either. Add chunky onions or sliced mushrooms if you like those veggies in your sauce. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Believe me, your friends will let you know how it turns out! Hopefully they aren’t too brutally honest! Enjoy!
Basic Tomato Meat Sauce
1 ½ pounds extra lean ground beef
2 large cans high quality crushed tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
2-3 T olive oil
salt and pepper
- Cover the bottom of a saucepan with the olive oil and turn on medium heat
- Add the ground beef and let it start to brown. Stir it often during this process so that it doesn’t burn and so that it breaks down into small pieces. Once it is about halfway cooked, add the minced garlic and let it cook along with the meat.
- Once the meat is fully cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and the fresh basil. Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours. The flavors intensify as they sit together.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
This sauce gets better as it sits. Don’t be afraid to make it a couple of days ahead of serving time and leave it in an airtight container in the fridge!