Through my pursuit of food knowledge, I at some point came to realize I was one of those people who generically referred to nearly all pasta as “spaghetti.” So I want to say first that this dish is best with a smaller pasta, something that can really grip the sauce. (And I say “sauce,” not gravy, despite my dad’s brief defection to “gravy” after a few too many Sopranos episodes.)
This is my father’s mother’s “quick” spaghetti sauce, but we all make our own version(s) of it. It takes less than an hour, and not only is it miles better than anything you can get in a jar, but it’s completely customizable. I’ve shared this with countless friends via bridal shower recipes grabs, and my neighbor added it to her regular dinner repertoire, though hers never looks anything like mine, which is the cool part.
Additionally, this is a fairly lean meal. I use no oil or butter and lean beef (I’m too cheap to go above 90-10, but by all means, go as lean as you can stand). If you go with whole wheat or whole grain (or gluten free) noodles, you surely up the nutritional value as well. I do like a good helping of pecorino romano, though, so sue me.
Corsi Quick Spaghetti
- 1 lb ground beef (I use 90/10, and I usually have them give me a little extra – we like it meaty)
- 1 onion (I use yellow), diced
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 can diced tomatoes (optional – I usually use ‘no added salt,’ but you can experiment with other flavors)
- Fresh parsley, if available; if not, dried will do
- Salt & pepper
- 3/4 lb pasta (medium shells and rotini are the best for this, but you can use your favorite)
- Put large of pot of water on to boil. Cook pasta by box directions.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet (not non-stick – Just bookmark this page and go buy a Dutch oven now, they’re really worth every penny. Cast-iron is fine, but the acidity of the tomatoes eventually ruined mine, so I recommend an enamel-covered cast iron, like Le Crueset or similar), brown ground beef and onion, salting and peppering as it cooks.
- Add can of tomato paste and 3 cans of water (use that can you just emptied of paste). Add diced tomatoes, if using. Add parsley (if using dried, use just a quarter-sized amount – it’s stronger) and other seasonings to taste. We like red pepper flakes, or sometimes chili powder, garlic powder or dried basil.
- Combine and let simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionaly, until reduced.
- If using a Dutch oven, simply add cooked and strained noodles to sauce and gently combine. Otherwise, pour most of sauce into your serving dish, then add noodles and combine. Add more sauce if necessary.
- Pass the cheese at the table (We like pecorino romano, but your basic Parmesan will do the trick).
- I’ve found that if I start my water for the pasta the same time that I turn on the heat for the Dutch oven, the pasta is ready just as the noodles are done.
- And for that pasta water: salt, no oil. Salt the water generously after it boils and before you add the noodles. Combining it with the sauce promptly after it’s drained (shake the extra water out) will ensure the noodles don’t stick together.
- Instead of ground beef, try ground turkey or venison.
- Try adding fresh vegetables. My neighbor always adds mushrooms and whatever else is laying around – zucchini, summer squash, peppers, etc..
- This is even more amazing on Day 2. Save leftovers and make your coworkers jealous the next day.
- The sauce freezes well, so if you’re cooking for one, go ahead and scoop out just your portion of sauce and make fewer noodles. Freeze the rest.
Pour: You can’t go wrong with the affordable Rigatoni Red ($9.99).