UPC’s Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce
It’s meat-sauce season! Being Italian, my blood runs red with Meat Sauce – it’s as important to me and my cold-weather sanity as running and swimming are to my warm-weather sanity! I honestly can’t imagine (or don’t want to – there’s no meaningful difference here) going a year without making and partaking in meat sauce. Obviously there isn’t a recipe up for a Meat Sauce yet on the site, so I’ll have to start putting them together and sharing! Of course I will share the non-meat sauces too… Sometimes the meal is better when the meat is not in the sauce.
UPC’s Tomato Sauce Primer
This stuff goes by one thousand and three different names that I have found so far. The most common are Spaghetti Sauce, Pasta Sauce, Tomato Sauce, Meat Sauce (when there’s meat), Bolognese Sauce, etc. Yes, the list goes on. I was taught a couple of different ways to make a great Sauce (or Gravy, in an Italian kitchen), and I will share each of them with you all eventually.
There’s the “Quick Sauce” version, which you pull together fairly quickly. This is best suited for a meal where the “freshness” of the tomatoes, and other ingredients, will be noticed and appreciated. Or, of course, when you’re in a pinch and didn’t have some back-up sauce already prepared and waiting in the fridge.
There’s the “Slow-Cooked Sauce” version, which I will often slow-cook for days (yes, more than one day – sometimes as many as 5 days!). The flavors of this are intoxicating, and it will fill the entire house with it’s delicious goodness for a very long time! Because the flavor will be so thoroughly condensed, this sauce is a great candidate for very strong flavored ingredients. Hot sausages are a great example of the kind of strong-flavored ingredients that go well with this sauce.
And finally there’s the “Feature Sauce” where you take a specific ingredient and feature it. Meat Sauce would be a perfect example of this; where the meat is the feature of the sauce. Another popular example is a Mushroom Sauce, where the sauce is made with a whole bunch of sliced mushrooms (usually white button; but it could be done with nearly any kind). The “Feature Sauce” can be done as either a quick sauce or a slow-cooked sauce, depending on what your goals are.
In today’s post, I’ll share with you the “easy” version of a quick meat sauce. But what I actually used was a Slow-Cooked Sauce, which I made many months ago, canned, and have been gradually working my way through the stores of. Don’t worry, this is my last jar, so I’ll be sharing this with you all soon as I make more!
UPC’s Spaghetti Squash and Meat Sauce; What you’ll need:
- 1 small Spaghetti Squash
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
- Meat Sauce:
- 1 lb Ground Beef (grass-fed!)
- 1 can Crushed Tomatoes (12 oz)
- 1 can Diced Tomatoes (12 oz)
- 1/2 Red Pepper, chopped
- 1/2 Green Pepper, chopped
- 1 Onion, diced (I prefer Vidalia for this; but any onion will do)
- 1 heel Garlic, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
- 1 tablespoon Basil
- 1 tablespoon Oregano
- 1 tablespoon Marjoram
Sauce Cook Time: 40 minutes (plus as long as you like!)
Squash Cook Time: 1 hour
Note: For this recipe, you must cook the sauce first… There’s simply no avoiding it.
1. In a pan, cook the diced onions and peppers with the coconut oil on high heat. Stir constantly.
2. After about 5 minutes of cooking add the meat. Continue to cook on high heat, stirring constantly, for 5 more minutes.
3. After 10 minutes of total cook time, or 5 minutes since you added the meat, add the remaining sauce ingredients and reduce the heat to medium-low, or a 3-4 out of 10. Cover the pot/pan.
4. Continue to cook on medium-low, covered, stirring every 4-5 minutes, for 20 minutes.
5. Cook the final 10 minutes uncovered. Continue to stir regularly.
(OPTIONAL) 6. If the sauce is looking like it will come out too thin for your tastes, add some tomato paste to thicken the sauce while it’s cooking. I recommend adding it 1 tablespoon at a time, and stirring carefully after adding it.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 425.
2. Cut open the spaghetti squash, roughly in half, and scoop out the seeds and most of the stringy innards. Don’t worry too much about the stringy stuff – it will mix in fine with the final dish!
3. Peel the squash’s hard skin off with a knife (it’s probably too hard to be taken off with a peeler). Be careful while performing this step!
5. In two large oven-safe bowls, put a bit of the sauce around the outside of the bowl.
6. Carefully place the bowl-shaped squash in the middle of the bowl, open side up, and settle it down in the sauce inside the bowl.
7. Fill the squash with sauce right up to the brim, and even slightly overflowing.
8. Put the bowls in the oven, no cover necessary, for 1 hour.
Don’t worry too much about overcooking – this will be just as good after 90 minutes; but it’s not as good if you under-cook it. So be sure to allow yourself at least the full hour. For a shorter cooking time, I suggest using a dutch-oven instead of the bowls, then use a higher heat; maybe 450 or 475. It won’t be as much fun; but it will work.
- Do you make your Tomato Sauce, or buy it?
- What are your favorite Tomato Sauce ingredients?
- What kinds of flavors do you most enjoy in your Tomato Sauce?
- Do you eat Tomato Sauce all year, or do you save it for the winter?
- What kinds of meals do you eat your Tomato Sauce with?