Last night’s dinner…..7/22/08–I FINALLY found a winner!!!

I grew up with my mom making HUGE pots of WONDERFUL meaty, delicious spaghetti sauce on a regular basis. She’d freeze the leftovers in dinner sized portions so that we would have her wonderful homemade sauce whenever we wanted it. I have now been married for over 18 years (closer to 19, actually), and have been a mommy for 15 1/2 years and still have not perfected my sauce recipe. I make a GOOD sauce, but not a GREAT sauce……well, not until yesterday anyhow. Yesterday I made a GREAT sauce, and it really was so simple! It didn’t have any meat, because I personally like to make a meatless sauce for freezing and then add meat to individual batches if I’m wanting a meat sauce.  This sauce will work for my vegetarian pasta dishes, for spaghetti and meatballs, and would even be a good base for a minestrone soup (I sometimes start with leftover pasta sauce, adding the broth, veggies, meat and beans to it, but using the pasta sauce as the base flavor).     Anyhow, here’s my recipe… did take about 30 minutes to prep, but cooking time was in the crockpot which = walking away and leaving it alone!

Super Duper Spaghetti Sauce

Crockpot recipe (suggested crockpot size– 6 to 7 quart crockpot)

from Lori4squaremom

4 (14.5-16 oz) cans diced tomatoes (or italian style stewed tomatoes)

4 (16 oz) cans tomato sauce

8 (6 oz) cans tomato paste

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 onion

2 carrots

2 zucchini squash (green, yellow, or both)

4 oz. mushrooms

1 Tbsp. dried sweet basil

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In food processor, FINELY chop onion, carrot, zucchini and mushrooms.  (If you don’t have a food processor or food chopper, you can grate your veggies and FINELY chop your onions and mushrooms with a good sharp knife).   Once veggies are finely chopped, place in medium hot well seasoned cast iron skillet (my preference) or a large nonstick skillet (not my preferred method), increase heat to almost high heat.  Saute all of the veggies (if you would like, you can use a tablespoon or two of a good olive oil, but I like to do mine without the added fat) until they are taking on a nice brown color….browning them is the key!  You want them nice and browned to add flavor to your overall sauce……this will take you about 15-20 minutes.  While the veggies are browning, I started opening all of those cans…..

Add all of tomato products and basil and red pepper flakes to your crockpot (I used a 7 quart pot, and it was 3/4 full, so you could use a 6 quart crockpot).  When veggies are browned, add garlic and salt and pepper, stir to mix well, then add all of the vegetables to your crockpot.   Stir into the tomato products.   Cook on HIGH for 4-6 hours or on Low for 8-10 hours.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.  Enjoy!   The leftovers of this will freeze well, or you can do what I’m doing and use them to make a lasagna later in the week.

Oh!  This is a great way to sneak veggies into your non-veggie loving family without them knowing at all!   I asked my family if they new that there were veggies in it after they were all done eating, and none of them could tell at all!    They were chopped finely enough that they didn’t see them (grating would also allow for them being well hidden and not visible).  Everyone loved this sauce, it was nice and thick and hearty, without the meat!   And it had great flavor!

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