These weekly recipes have been well received so far, so for now I’m going to keep posting them. I originally posted this recipe in January 2011 on my health & fitness blog.
My whole family loves pasta. Bruce & the kids love it because it (usually) tastes good (there was a peanut butter pasta experiment that went wrong, but….). I love it because it’s inexpensive, quick, and healthy – a mealtime trifecta in my books!
I have tried all sorts of variations over the years, from basic jarred sauces to from scratch dishes with fresh tomatoes, and have finally found one that everyone mostly likes (my kids hate the mushrooms), has lots of extra veggies in it, is easy to make, doubles well, and freezes well too. I made a batch recently, and photographed the process to share.
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 can sliced mushrooms
1-2 cups chopped spinach (frozen is OK)
2 – 3 cans (6-8 cups) tomato sauce
1/2 – 1 cup water
2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried oregano
The one thing that takes time is prepping the vegetables. I have a food processor, and sometimes use it to chop the vegetables, but sometimes I do it by hand.
You will need a large stock pot or similar pot to cook this in.
Pour the olive oil into the pot and heat over medium heat until the oil thins and coats the bottom of the pot. Add the diced onions and garlic. Gently fry until the onion is translucent, being careful not to let them burn. Add the celery and mushrooms.
Add the carrots and spinach, stirring often. Then add all the tomato sauce, and use the water to rinse out the inside of the cans. Finally, add the seasonings. I usually use basil, oregano, a herb & garlic mix, anything italian that I have on hand. Fresh work great, but I always have dried on hand for when I don’t have any fresh.
Once you have added all the ingredients, simmer over low heat for 20 – 30 minutes, to make sure the vegetables soften. You can simmer longer if you’d like.
At this point, the sauce is done! You can freeze some, or feed a large gathering – this recipe makes about 20 servings (1/2 cup each). I made rigatoni for my family the first night:
The next day, we invited the office manager from Bruce’s work over for lunch, and I made spaghetti with grilled chicken and this sauce. She loved it!
Using nutritional data from the sides of the packages I used, and the internet for the vegetable calculations, this recipe works out as follows (based on a 1/2 cup serving, 20 servings per batch):
Protein: 1.6 grams
Carbs: 8 grams
Fats: 1 gram
I did not do a specific cost calculation, but a rough estimate breaks out like this:
Olive Oil: $.15
Tomato Sauce: $3.75 (3 cans at $1.25 each)
Per serving: $.39
Total cost would change based on the prices of ingredients in your location.
This sauce is so versatile! Of course, you can add just about any vegetable to it – peppers are an obvious one (allergies prevent me from using them), or broccoli, or any other one you prefer. As well, you can make it a meat sauce by adding well cooked ground beef or turkey. I like to serve it with either grilled chicken breasts, or meatballs for the men in the family. And on a day when I’ve worked a 10 hour shift, and need dinner in a hurry, defrosting a tub of frozen sauce and boiling some water for pasta is a way better option than ordering takeout!