Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Italian Meat Sauce

Long time no post, and honestly it's for many reasons.  I've kind of had a creativity block, but also I've just been busy.  Life happens and if you don't make the time SUPRISE! it doesn't get done.  There's my excuse, but who really cares.  I'm going to put more effort in because I want to and that will be that.  

This recipe stems from a sort of confusion.  I couldn’t understand why sauces at Italian restaurants tasted so much better than my own.  I mean it’s just a simple tomato sauce, how could there be such a difference of flavor.  I had a feeling that it was something that I could actually make, and being gluten free it is a lot easier to eat Italian food when I make it at home because I can make my own noodles (I will hit on the noodles subject again to give you my recommendation of good gluten free noodles).  I searched the internet to try and figure out ways that I could make my sauces taste more like theirs, and that is how I formed this recipe.  The tips I learned were more garlic (much more garlic) and more olive oil and it pretty much transformed my sauce game.  It was simple which is sort of crazy and sort of great.  I can tell you one thing, this is one of my favorite smells in the whole wide world when it’s cooking. 

Just briefly (clearly not so briefly haha) I want to touch on the noodles.  If you are gluten free like me then you have probably tried many different gluten free noodles.  I myself, have tried brown rice noodles, corn noodles, quinoa noodles, etc.  until I found the perfect noodles.  The best part is they are inexpensive and very easy to find (pretty much at most grocery stores).  They are the Barilla gluten free noodles.  At first I was skeptical because it was a big brand and I just tend to be skeptical of big brands making gluten-free, but these have been my favorite for a while now.  They taste exactly like regular wheat pasta and I believe it is because they are made up of a blend of rice and corn.  It makes sense because most of the good baked goods and breads that are gluten free are made up of a blend of different flours.  It is easier to get the right taste and texture with a blend.  So if you’re making an pasta recipe, give these noodles a try.  Even if you're not gluten free, I would recommend them as a healthier alternative, my whole family (which all eat gluten)  ate these and didn’t notice the difference.

I T A L I A N  M E A T  S A U C E  R E C I P E

☂ 2 (28 oz.) cans of whole plum tomatoes in tomato juice
☂ 1 lb. ground beef (90% or leaner!)
☂ 12 garlic cloves, thinnly sliced
☂ 3 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
☂ 1 lb. gluten free Barilla spaghetti 
☂ ¼ cup olive oil
☂ 1 tsp. salt
☂ ½ tsp. black pepper
☂ 1 Tbsp. sugar
☂ 1 tsp. dried basil
☂ ¼ cup reserved pasta water
☂ salt, pepper & sugar to taste

☂ Place large pot on stove and add in olive oil and garlic.  Once the olive oil and garlic are in the pot turn the stove to medium low heat.  Cook garlic for 10-15 minutes until it becomes golden.  
☂ Add in both cans of tomatoes and turn the heat up to high heat.  Mix in 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 Tbsp. sugar, and 1 tsp. dried basil to season.  Let cook on high for 20 minutes then drop the heat to medium low.  
☂ While the sauce is cooking on high, heat another skillet to medium and cook ground beef until browned and fully cooked.  Season with salt and pepper.  
☂ Once the meat is cooked drain it (saving 1 Tbsp. of meat drippings in the skillet) and add the meat to the sauce which should now be on medium low.  
☂ In the skillet with the meat drippings drizzle in 1 tsp. of olive oil and turn the heat to high.  Add in the sliced crimini mushrooms and let them cook on one side until they are browned before flipping them to cook on the other side.  Add in salt and pepper to taste once the mushrooms have browned.  
☂ Once the mushrooms are cooked stir them into the pasta sauce.
☂ While the sauce continues to simmer (turn it down to low if there is any burning on the bottom), boil a large pot of water to cook the pasta in (sprinkle in about ½ tsp. salt).
☂ Once the water comes up to a boil cook the pasta according to the package directions (make sure to reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water once the pasta is cooked to add into the sauce.)
☂ Drain the pasta and add 2 Tbsp. to ¼ cup of pasta water to the sauce and check the sauce for seasonings (salt, black pepper, sugar, and dried basil).  
☂ Serve the tomato sauce with the pasta! 
☂ WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

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