Spaghetti with Ground Beef Marinara Sauce

This is the part of the year when every­thing speeds up, and my blog can’t seem to catch up with the pace of real life. I will be post­ing more quick week­night dishes this spring, because some­thing tells me you have one hun­dred and one projects, too. I’m sim­pli­fy­ing to bare essen­tials here — ground beef mari­nara sauce poured over pip­ing hot pasta, easy, yum. It’s a recipe that comes together with a hand­ful of com­mon ingre­di­ents, and it’s scal­able so you can make a big pot and feed a crowd in no time.

Spaghetti with Ground Beef Marinara SauceMari­nara means it is a quick sauce — not cooked all day, but made in min­utes, from scratch. It’s best to use extra lean ground beef for this recipe, or sub­sti­tute ground bison. I made Ital­ian sauces with ground turkey and chicken breast before, but they’re bland and no match to the fla­vor com­bi­na­tion that beef and toma­toes can give you. I used spaghetti for this post, but toss is with any pasta you have on hand. Bet­ter yet, go for whole wheat, or enriched pasta to add extra nutri­tion, or try rice, or quinoa pasta for a change — I’ve tried both out of curios­ity and they weren’t too bad at all. I secretly still pre­fer real Ital­ian pasta :)

To make my tomato sauces, I pre­fer using pas­sata — a liq­uid cooked tomato purée that comes in tall, carafe-​like glass jars. I buy mine by the flat at the Ital­ian store, but it’s fairly com­mon item here in Cana­dian gro­ceries, too. Pas­sata makes a smooth sauce, and I think it tastes much bet­ter than many canned toma­toes, which often turn out watery and acidic, no mat­ter how I cook them. Pas­sata is also prefer­able if you’re going the BPA-​free — remem­ber that acidic con­tents (toma­toes!) are the worst for leech­ing chem­i­cals from the can coat­ing. If you can’t find tomato pas­sata in your gro­cery store, take plain canned toma­toes and run them through a sieve, or a food mill.

Spaghetti with Ground Beef Marinara SauceNow pour some Chi­anti, grate the Parme­san and you’re set.

Spaghetti with Ground Beef Mari­nara Sauce
Cui­sine: Ital­ian
Serves: 4 small, or 2 gen­er­ous portions
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of gar­lic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 200g extra lean ground beef (roughtly ½ lb)
  • 1 24oz jar passata *
  • 1 car­rot, peeled and diced
  • hand­ful of basil leaves, torn
  • 1 – 2 tsp sugar, to taste
  • salt and pep­per, to taste
  • pasta of your choice
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skil­let over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stir­ring often, until almost translu­cent — 1 minute. Add the gar­lic and swirl around with the onion for about 15 sec­onds — care­ful not to burn it. Add the ground beef and brown it, press­ing with a wooden spoon to break it apart and incor­po­rate with the onion and garlic.
  2. Pour in the pas­sata, stir­ring imme­di­ately (it may bub­ble and splat­ter on impact). Add the basil leaves and grated car­rot. Decrease the heat to the low­est set­ting, cover, and sim­mer for 20 min­utes. When done, do a taste test and add sugar, salt, and pep­per, as needed.
  3. Serve over pasta and gar­nish with basil leaves and grated Parme­san cheese.
  4. * some pas­sata brands can me on the thick side — thin out with a splash of chicken stock, or water to desired con­sis­tency. Don’t add too much, as it will be watery.

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