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DSC00335.2In my very first post on this blog I mentioned my spaghetti sauce and promised you the recipe would follow. Well, today is the day! My sauce is full of chunky mushrooms, onion, red bell pepper, and fresh tomato. Not to mention ground beef, a heap of spinach, minced garlic, and spices. This recipe is a crowd pleaser that I have been perfecting since my college days.

Some of the great things about this recipe: it makes a huge batch — perfect for sharing with dinner guests or breaking up into smaller meals to be frozen for a later date; you get a ton of fresh vegetables in this one dish; it’s versatile — you can serve it with any shape pasta and top it with a variety of different cheeses. Make it your own, share, and enjoy!

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On the rare occasion when I have time to make my own tomato sauce, I do. But I have to admit that most of the time I use a jar of Trader Joe’s pasta sauce as my base. Before adding the sauce to the pan, there are several other steps that must be tended to first.

Wash and slice one pound white mushrooms, dice one red bell pepper, and chop one large onion. Mince or press several cloves of garlic. Add these ingredients to a large pan to sauté with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.

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Since I don’t add much oil, I put the lid on my pan while the veggies are sautéing. This will help retain the moisture that releases as they cook, which in turn will cover the bottom of the pan to prevent your veggies from scorching. Once the veggies are soft and the onions translucent, you can remove the lid and continue to cook until most of the moisture evaporates.

DSC00298While the veggies are sautéing, brown one pound of ground beef in a separate pan, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks.

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Chop one fresh tomato and set aside for the moment.

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Now we are getting somewhere! Once the veggies are cooked and the beef is browned, you can put everything together. Add one 10 ounce bag of fresh baby spinach, the browned beef, one 28 ounce jar of tomato sauce, one chopped tomato, and spices to the large pan you sautéed your veggies in.

DSC00302Spices? What spices? I wish I could give you exact measurements here, but I just add a pinch of this and a pinch of that. I like to add a pinch of each dried basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, and sage, along with fresh ground pepper and a bit of sea salt. I also add a healthy squeeze of Sriracha hot sauce (optional) for a little zing. Once all of the ingredients are in the pan, stir to combine.

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Cover your pan, reduce the heat to low, and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally. The spinach leaves will wilt as the sauce warms. Once it is hot and bubbling, it’s ready to serve over your favorite pasta. I like to use rotini because the spirals capture lots of sauce in every bite. You can also top your sauce with cheese. Favorites in our household include crumbled goat cheese and grated Parmesan. Whatever combination you choose — enjoy!

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Chunky Spaghetti Sauce


Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

1 pound white mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 large red bell pepper, washed and diced
1 large onion, chopped
5 (or more!) garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 pound ground beef or sirloin
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 10-ounce bag washed baby spinach
1 28-ounce jar pasta sauce
Pinch of dried basil
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of dried oregano
Pinch of dried sage
Pinch of dried parsley
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Sea salt to taste
Squirt of Sriracha (optional)

1) In a large pan, sauté one pound white mushrooms, one red bell pepper, one onion, and minced garlic cloves in one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Cover the pan to retain moisture and prevent scorching. Once the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent, remove the lid and cook until most of the moisture evaporates.

2) While your vegetables are cooking, brown one pound ground beef over medium heat, breaking the meat up as you cook.

3) Add one ten ounce bag of washed baby spinach to your vegetables, topping it with the browned beef, pasta sauce, chopped tomato, dried basil, thyme, oregano, sage, parsley, ground pepper, sea salt, and Sriracha. Reduce heat to low. Stir to combine.

4) Sauce is ready to serve when heated through and bubbling. Serve with your choice of pasta and cheese topping. Enjoy!

Beef, Main Courses, Pasta