Thursday, August 21, 2014

Easy Slow-cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Why make it in the slow-cooker? It doesn't *exactly* save time. And, let's face it, it isn't a long process to make spaghetti - even if you make your own marinara. So why bother?

Well, as for time, you can do all the prep the night before - brown the meat, add the pre-made sauce, or add the tomatoes and spices - and put it in the fridge to be put in the slow-cooker the night before. It takes the same amount of time technically, but when I only have to prepare the noodles and a quick salad, it saves me time when I need it.

Another reason is for the taste. Cooking marinara all day long enhances the flavor of those wonderful spices, and by the time you serve it up the flavor is divine.

I'm not a huge fan of ground meat, but cooking your meat in the sauce all day means that not only does your meat soak up all that wonderful flavor, but it also is very tender by the time you serve it up in for dinner.

I've been buying cheap sauce for a while now, but I am going back to making my own because it only takes a few extra minutes and it saves me a few bucks. Buy organic canned tomatoes on sale and it still saves you money. Gotta love spending less on organic than non-organic.

Lastly, I have read that the more you cook tomatoes, the more lycopene they produce (look it up to learn more about this fabulous nutrient). Most veggies (and fruits, if you want to get technical) are the opposite. Thank you, tomatoes!

So here is my quick and easy spaghetti sauce recipe:

Easy Slow-Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

1 pound ground turkey, pork, or beef (actually, most any ground meat will work - pick your favorite. I used turkey), crumbled and browned.
1 29 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 heaping tablespoon dried basil
1/2 tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons minced onion (dried)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste

Brown your meat and drain fat. In your slow-cooker insert, add the tomatoes and spices, then stir. Stir in the meat. Put the insert in the slow-cooker and turn on low 6-8 hours.

Perfect amounts aren't overly important in this recipe. You can add other spices if you like, or use a favorite Italian seasoning. Using fresh garlic, onions (or shallots), basil, and oregano is great if you have the time. Oh, and many people like a tablespoon or two of sugar (and if you do, I suggest brown sugar).

I use Tinkyada brown rice noodles, spirals so it is easy for my two-year-old to eat, and I cook them a few minutes longer than instructed. It's one of the reasons I like these noodles. You can cook them a little longer, making them softer, and they don't fall apart.

One of these days I'm going to pin my bestie (who just so happens to be of Italian descent) down to make an actual recipe for her "gravy" as she calls it - marinara to us - and share her recipe with the world. It's what we are all going to eat in Heaven, anyway. Until then, this recipe will suffice - at least my kids say so.

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