(Gravy a nod to my Italian-American friends and family across the country, holla! First time I heard “I’m just mixing the gravy with the pasta now,” I did a double take until I saw my boyfriend’s dad mixing red sauce with penne… hehe!)
I’ve posted about a hearty spaghetti sauce before – in fact, it’s the 2nd recipe I ever posted here on Feisty Foodie. But ya know, that was 3 years ago, and I’ve come a long, long way in terms of cooking. (Funny how, 5 years ago, I’d have told you I’m very confident in my cooking abilities, and now I wouldn’t say such a thing; the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.) So while that last sauce was good, don’t get me wrong! it relied heavily on the use of cheese. (If you read the old post, it’s actually… almost… embarrassing. Almost.)
This sauce? This is a versatile, delicious, wonderful, I-actually-licked-my-plate-clean-one-night sauce that can be used for:
LASAGNA NOM NOM NOM there’s 5 cheeses in there, count ’em – mozzarella, ricotta, piave, pecorino romano & parmagiano reggiano…
Homemade pizza… drool
Spooned on top of spaghetti with some freshly grated cheese on top
Something new to me – I never did understand this dish, one that BF orders frequently – chicken parm. A crispy chicken cutlet doused in sauce no longer remains crispy, right? BUT IT IS OH SO DELICIOUS…!
Right after my dish came out of the oven, cheese all melted on top
I layered pasta on the bottom, then ricotta, then pasta, then sauce, then tons of shredded mozzarella…
Mixed it all up together to devour…
And my most recent endeavor to use up the last bit of sauce and some ricotta – an individual serving of baked ziti (well, penne). My brilliant stroke of genius for this is simply: assembling the dish in an individual portion size- in a Pyrex storage container, then covering it, putting it in the fridge, and pulling it back out the next night to bake and eat “fresh” baked ziti. This makes my life so much easier, since I work late-ish hours, and no longer am allowing myself to eat after 8pm, I can aim to get home by 7:30 and still be able to eat, without resorting to only leftovers (because I don’t always have). Happy me!
Now you want the recipe. It’s ultra simple. Really.
Can of crushed tomatoes (I think that’s 20 ounces; I couldn’t find plain, and I’m inclined to believe that the “with basil” made it taste better, but you can certainly add fresh or leave that out)
Half a medium yellow onion
.5 or so of ground beef, FROZEN (this is important, explained later)
4-5 bulbs of garlic, depending on how much you like garlic – I like it a LOT, so 5 or more was great for me
Freshly ground black pepper
Italian seasoning, a palmful or so
Pinch of sugar
Tablespoon or so of tomato paste
Olive oil, a turn or so of the pan
Dice onion and mince garlic. Heat oil in pan and add onions and garlic, stirring around until fragrant.
Add frozen ground beef on top of onions and garlic. Using a wooden spoon, scrape off meat as it becomes cooked. This ensures that it cooks into tiny little shreds… continue doing this until the meat is mostly in small shreds 1cm big or so. (This is optional, but I did this to encourage the smooth texture and to trick a vegetarian into eating it. I AM JUST KIDDING. No vegetarians have ever eaten any of my cooking and probably never will, haha.)
Once that’s done, add can of crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, stir around and let come to a small bubble (low, low, low heat). Add salt & pepper to taste; a pinch of sugar to tame out the sour tang. Once it comes to a small bubble again, add the tablespoon of tomato paste and let bubble for a few minutes to thicken.
Optional: add some freshly grated cheese. I used what I had on hand – still the Piave, Pecorino Romano and Parmagiano Reggiano, but not too much, since for every application, I was planning on adding more to the top.
Serve over pasta, in lasagna, on pizza, whatever… but most of all, ENJOY!!!
PS If you want “recipes” for any of the above dishes, just leave a comment, and I’ll post the recipes 🙂