Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spaghetti with meat sauce

Spaghetti with meat sauce
If this recipe wasn't so delicious, I'd stop making it because it makes me feel old. It's the first substantial dish I learned to cook on my own and it has been a trusty standby for years. Well ... ahem ... decades. Of course it's evolved since I made it almost every week as an undergrad. Now I use whole wheat noodles and add some kale, making this a much healthier version than the one I cooked as a student. If I cut up the spaghetti then the babies like it too, which is always a bonus nowadays. How things have changed.

Spaghetti with meat sauce

1 box (454 g) whole wheat spaghetti
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup kale, chopped and stems removed
1 package (~454 g) lean ground beef
1 tsp each of salt and pepper
1 jar (24 oz) pasta sauce
1 rind of parmesan
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock or water (optional)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Put a large stock pot of salted water on the boil for the spaghetti. Cook it according to package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain the spaghetti and put it back into the stock pot. Set the stock pot aside off the heat. 

In a Dutch oven or a large high-sided frying pan, heat up the olive oil. Add the onions, carrots and celery and saute five to seven minutes until glassy and soft. Add the garlic, herbes de Provence and red pepper flakes, and saute two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the zucchini and kale and cook another three to five minutes until the zucchini has softened. Scrape the vegetable mixture onto a plate and set aside. 

Return the pan to the hot element and add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon. Cook it, stirring often, until mostly done. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add back the vegetable mixture and fold it into the ground beef. 

Add the pasta sauce, bay leaves and parmesan rind. Add half a cup of chicken stock or water if you need more liquid to cover all of the ingredients. Mostly cover the pan (leave an edge open for the steam to escape) and simmer the spaghetti sauce for about 20 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir.

Add a cup of the pasta sauce to the pasta noodles in the stock pot and stir to loosen them up. Slide the cooked pasta into serving bowls and top with another ladle of sauce and a sprinkling of  grated parmesan cheese. Serve with salad or garlic bread.


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