Sometimes I make meatballs. Sometimes I buy those frozen meatballs. They periodically go on sale for a price that rivals the cost per pound for ground beef. But sometimes I also just make a meat sauce with loose browned ground beef. I vary the canned tomato products depending on what I have around. There’s almost always a chopped onion, a few cloves of garlic minced up, some parsley, oregano, and basil. I suppose you could use those pre-mixed Italian seasonings but you have to find a brand you like. I’ve had some really bad ones so tend to just use some mix of my own dried or fresh herbs, depending on the season.
Sometimes I use a large can of pureed tomatoes and an 8 or 16 ounce can of tomato sauce, sometimes a large can of tomato sauce and a small can of tomato paste, etc. You could even use a large can of whole tomatoes in puree if you like your sauce chunky. Just break up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon. Usually I add a bit of red or white wine, whichever’s open. If nothing’s open or you don’t cook with alcohol, just skip this step. I’ll serve the sauce over various shapes of pasta, but did the old fashioned spaghetti tonight–always a hit!
Quick and Dirty Meat Sauce
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic. minced
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 28 ounce can pureed tomatoes
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup white wine
- Brown the ground beef with the onion and garlic in a large saucepan (thinking ahead to all the tomatoes you're going to add!), then drain any excess fat. Remember not to dump it down your sink! I always keep a couple of cleaned cans (from easy stuff to clean like tomato sauce) under my sink and pour any fat into there.
- Add the basil, oregano, parsley, salt and pepper and stir in, cooking for another minute or so.
- Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, and wine. Stir in and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or longer. If it simmers a long time, it might get a bit thick. Add some liquid (more wine or just water) to thin it out a bit.
- This is a very forgiving recipe. If you're having company and want to make the sauce ahead of time and let it simmer longer while you visit with friends, just leave it on very low heat and check it now and then. Add more liquid or cover it after 10 minutes or so, then uncover it when you put the pasta in the water.
This can also be made a few days ahead and kept in the refrigerator and made a few weeks or months ahead and frozen.