Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Easy-peasy Pasta Sauce

Wednesdays are busy days for me - I know I've mentioned that before.  From the moment we get up in the morning, until the moment our heads hit the pillows at night, we're going, going, going.  

Wednesdays have become our crock pot nights, out of necessity - all you busy parents out there know exactly what I mean!  If we're going to avoid the fast food drive thru on the way home from our last commitment, I have to think ahead and have dinner going before we even leave the house.

Today was a bit of a struggle.  I'd not run to the grocery store, because I was trying to use up what was left in our freezer/fridge/pantry before shopping.  Every so often, we have these "eat up everything on the shelves" kind of weeks, so that I can make sure we're not wasting anything we buy.  (That's one of my pet peeves - I HATE opening a pantry or cupboard to find a can of food that is now so old that I have to throw it out, when we could have easily eaten it in time...if I'd stopped buying new stuff to put on top of it).

I looked in my pantry this morning, and didn't find much.  Today was going to be my grocery shopping/replenshing day, but that wasn't until this afternoon....I needed to figure out something for our crock pot this morning....hmmmm...

I threw together what I hoped would be a yummy pasta sauce, since I saw a box of uncooked penne hiding in the back corner.  Fingers crossed, we headed out for our day of running around. 

Thankfully - - it worked!  I'll make a few changes next time, but I think this one might become a staple around here, especially since I almost always have the ingredients on hand.  (I'll note the changes at the bottom of the recipe).

Crockpot Pasta Sauce

2 cans of diced tomatoes (the 28 oz size - the BIG ones)
1 can of tomato sauce (8 oz)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs lean ground beef (I used 93/7)
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence seasoning
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter

In a large skillet or stock pot, melt the butter.  If you want, you can use cooking oil for this, but I'd suggest not using olive oil (it negates the flavour of the garlic).  Once melted, saute the onion and the garlic until the onion is translucent.   Add the ground beef, and brown well.

Meanwhile, in the crockpot, dump in the cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, and seasoning.  Once the beef is browned, add the onion/garlic/beef mixture.  (Do not drain).

Cook on low heat for 8 hours, allowing the flavours to mix.  Just before serving, stir in the Parmesan cheese, allowing it to melt.  Remove the bay leaves before serving over pasta.

Notes:  it was a bit thin, so I would probably puree the canned tomatoes before putting them in the crockpot (or just buy pureed tomatoes.....I just always have diced on hand, so it makes more sense for me to puree them myself).  I'd also tilt the lid for the last hour or so of cooking, to allow some of the steam to escape and cook off.


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