Pasta, spaghetti sauce and fine herbs!

This week, let's get smarter.  I can already hear you thinking, how is she going to make us smarter with stupid spaghetti!!!  Spaghetti? Stupid?Ahhh… That’s where you're wrong. Every time I think that an idea or a recipe will...

This week, let's get smarter.  I can already hear you thinking, how is she going to make us smarter with stupid spaghetti!!!  Spaghetti? Stupid?Ahhh… That’s where you're wrong.

Every time I think that an idea or a recipe will be simple, I don't know why, but it gets more complicated than I thought.  What could be simpler than a spaghetti sauce?  Everybody has their own recipe, or if it's not a recipe it's our own way to do it.  Spaghetti is popular. Kids love it and moms love it too because it's fast, easy, simple and everybody likes it.  But do you know what you are eating?  I read an article that says if you look at the ingredients on a box of anything you buy at the grocery, and you don't know the ingredients or can't pronounce it, buy something else!  So, here I am at the grocery looking at the ingredients of the dry pasta I usually buy.  Surprise!  There is wheat and a bunch of others words that I can't pronounce.  Hmmm...??  After a bit of research, looking at every dry pasta package, I finally found some with only wheat.  Ok, I know wheat.  Let's buy this one!  After I got home, I was still thinking about this. What have I been eating for all those years in my pasta?  Thanks to Google, a few clicks and I got my answers:

  • Niacin
  • Ferrous sulphate
  • Thiamine mononitrate
  • Riboflavin
  • Acid folic

These ingredients are vitamins.  In Canada, companies add vitamins to your dry pasta.  Oh, that's neat! This is why the one I bought that had only wheat was imported from Italy.  I don't know if you already knew this, but I didn't know.  I'm glad I learned it, just because I like to know what I’m eating.  My next step with pasta? I will try to make fresh homemade ones.  I'll let you know the result in a later blog for sure.  It should be interesting.

Pasta with my favorite sauce
Pasta with my favorite sauce

For now, I'm giving you my favourite spaghetti sauce recipe.  You can put it on top of your favourite pasta: dry or fresh, with or without vitamins and in whatever colours you want.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb sweet or spicy Italian sausage (or a mixture of both), casing removed
  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can (156 ml) tomato paste
  • 2 cans (796 ml) diced Italian tomatoes
  • 2 cans (796 ml) tomato sauce
  • 2 cups (500 ml) beef broth
  • 4 teaspoons fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  1. In a large saucepan, brown the meat in 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of the oil, half at a time, with the red pepper flakes. Add oil, if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a bowl.
  2. In the same saucepan, soften the onions, carrots and garlic in the remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute over high heat.
  3. Add the meat, tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth and basil. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan regularly, for about 3 hours or until it thickens.
  4. Serve over the pasta of your choice.

As you can see in the ingredients, I put fresh basil in my sauce.  In Montreal, I used to have my pots of fresh fine herbs by my window.  It was so easy, whenever I was cooking I just chopped some off the plant and threw it in my pan.  Since I moved to Nova Scotia, I don't really know why but I stopped this habit.

Fresh Herbs
Fresh Herbs

If you want fresh herbs and want to save a lot of money, this is the best way to do it.  For almost the same price you can get a plant instead of a small plastic container of fresh herbs and you're going to have your plant for ever...  ok, maybe not, but for a really long time.  So this week, since I was cooking my awesome spaghetti sauce, I started my collection of fine herbs again.  I bought basil and rosemary, my two favourite herbs.  I still have an empty pot, so next time I'll go for some chives.  Of course I can't have all the herbs in my window.  But, at least, I have the ones I use the most.  Fresh is always better then dry, in my opinion.

Good pasta, the best spaghetti sauce, fresh herbs, and you should be in business for an awesome meal!  Put some parmesan on top of it and it will be delicious!  Cheese... another thing I should talk to you about!