Meat Sauce Packed with Veggies

Mwahaha! I did it again! Sauce is the easiest place to hide vegetables from my vegetable-rejecting toddler and I just keep doing it!

Spaghetti and sauce is such a comforting, warming meal. And it’s actually really easy to pull off efficiently on a weeknight. It’s also a great meal to pull together if you have a variety of odds and ends in your vegetable drawer that need to be used! So while the basics of this dish are consistent, I never truly make the same sauce twice, and it’s delicious every time. It’s damp and cool today in Chicago, so I am writing about this dinner from the other night to relive the warmth. Here you go:

* olive oil
* ~1lb ground meat of your choice (I had ground beef in the freezer, so I went with beef)
* 1 large can basic, low-salt tomato sauce
* veggies (on this day I used: 1 medium onion, 1 zucchini, 3 stalks celery, 2 carrots)
* minced garlic
* salt + pepper, to taste (other seasonings if you like – oregano, parsley, basil – yum!)
* spaghetti (amount will vary depending on how many you are serving, of course)gravy1

Heat a drizzle of olive oil on medium in a large pot and add your roughly-chopped onions to begin to soften.

Once the onions are slightly softened, add your ground meat to them, and using a wooden spoon, break the meat up, stirring frequently as the meat browns. I don’t know why, but I find agravy2 wooden spoon to work best for this. Is that a thing? Or is it just me? I’m not sure.

Continue stirring and allow the meat to brown nicely, mixing it with the onions to flavor it as it cooks. While that’s going on, you can also chop your other veggies – get a real small dice on most if you have an anti-veggie customer at your table like I do.

Once it’s mostly browned and broken up, pour in tomato sauce and add any harder veggies that need some time on heat to cook down and soften up. This is where I added my celery and zucchini.

Turn the heat to medium-low and stir it all together. Grate carrots right into the sauce – this is seriously the best hidden veg trick in my kit, but it also adds a really nice sweetness to the sauce.

Mix everything together and let it cook a bit without your interruption. Reduce to low if it’s bubbling too much and you have a little time. After a few minutes, add minced garlic (to taste – I add about 1T), salt and pepper, and any other seasonings. Make sure you taste and adjust as needed, and then cover and let simmer until you are ready to serve. (Around now I usually boil water to cook the pasta, and put some garlic bread in the oven.)

When you are ready, plate and serve. When I made this the other night, I made a quick salad of yet more stuff I needed to use before we lost it: butter lettuce, grape tomatoes, avocado, Persian cucumber, dried date bits, and sunflower seeds, tossed with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon. And of course, some vino.

Just like how they made it in the old country–or something!

Buon appetito!

3 thoughts on “Meat Sauce Packed with Veggies

  1. Can’t wait to try that carrot trick. Thanks! Also, I’ve found that a potato masher is a very effective tool for breaking up meat.


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