It’s been a crazy busy time the last couple of month’s. Over the past few weeks we’ve had family in town to celebrate birthdays and the holidays. It’s the time of year when I can’t wait to be in my warm kitchen with the music cranked loud while baking pastries and pies to my hearts content! Joe’s family came in December to celebrate their Mom’s 90th birthday which happens to be on Christmas Day. Joe and Josh also celebrated birthdays just a few days later. Josh and Cameron didn’t make it here for Christmas as they are always busy with work over the holidays, but they took time off in January to come home and spend a few days. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my boys and that’s just too long! They both have limited kitchens and need an easily prepped meal after a long day at work so this recipe is for them. This is an easy go to meal that you can make in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. It’s made with fresh ingredients that tastes incredible. It’s also interchangeable in that you can add more veggies to the sauce or change the protein. A side of leafy greens or roasted veggies makes this a complete meal.
The main ingredients for the sauce include 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, beef broth, tomato paste, sugar, red chile flakes and Italian seasonings. I love the Kumato tomatoes for their color, they make a gorgeous rich looking sauce. Not pictured is 1/2 pound of ground beef. You can substitute Italian sausage, ground pork or chicken for the protein. You can also add additional veggies such as mushrooms, carrots, spinach, red or yellow bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus or anything else that sounds good.
In a medium cast iron skillet, brown 1/2 pound of ground beef over medium high heat. Drain the ground beef in a strainer to remove any excess grease. Add the beef back to the skillet and toss in 1/2 cup of chopped onion. Stir the onion with the ground beef and continue to cook as the onion softens and becomes translucent.
Add the garlic and stir for a minute more as the garlic becomes fragrant.
Add the cherry tomatoes that have been sliced in half and stir to combine. Place a lid on top and let the tomatoes cook down for a few minutes.
When the tomatoes soften and begin to break down, add the beef broth to the mix.
Add the tomato paste and stir well to combine. This will thicken the sauce.
Add the Italian spices, red chile flakes and a pinch of sugar to the sauce and stir well. If I have fresh herbs I use them but today I’m using Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset which has all the spices I love in a pasta sauce. A pinch of sugar cuts through the acidity of the tomatoes. And a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper or other red chile flakes gives the sauce a bit more flavor.
If you have fresh basil, add some roughly chopped to the sauce at the last minute so that it just wilts into the sauce.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain the pasta and serve with meat sauce. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add more beef broth. If too thin, add more tomato paste. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan Cheese.
1/2 pound 85% or higher Ground Beef, (Substitutions for the ground beef include Italian Sausage, Ground Pork or Chicken)
1/2 pound dry Pasta of choice
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half (I used Kumato tomatoes for a dark red sauce)
1/2 cup Onion, chopped
1 large Garlic Clove, grated on a microplane hand grater
1 cup Beef Broth, I used Better than Bouillon dissolved in water
3 ounces Tomato Paste
1 – 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning (I used Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset)
Pinch of Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper or Red Chile Flakes, optional
Handful of fresh Basil, roughly chopped, optional
Grated Parmesan Cheese, optional
*If you want to incorporate more vegetables into the sauce you might add mushrooms, carrots, spinach, red or yellow bell pepper, zucchini or asparagus.
Set a 3 quart pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling add pasta and cook according to package directions.
Heat a medium size cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef to the skillet and break apart as it begins to brown. When the ground beef has cooked throughout, strain it to remove any excess grease. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel and add the beef back to the pan. Turn the heat down to medium and add the chopped onion and combine with the ground beef. Stir as the onion begins to soften and become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute as it becomes fragrant. Add the sliced tomatoes to the pan, stir to combine and place a lid on top. Let the tomatoes steam and break down. When they have softened and cooked through, add the beef broth and tomato paste. Add the Italian spices, sugar and Aleppo pepper. Stir well, turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for a few minutes. Just before serving, add the chopped basil and stir as it wilts in the sauce. Serve over pasta noodles, sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.
Makes 2 – 3 servings.