I am quite certain the very first real meal that I learned to cook was spaghetti with meat sauce. And distinctly remember cooking it solo for the first time (late middle school or high school) for my family and I accidently opened the “spoon-sized” flap of the cayenne pepper…and shook vigorously. Haha.
Since then, I have switched out the refined white flour pasta, added more seasonings and veggies, cleaned up the meat, and learned to check the seasoning tops more closely. Ha. But no matter the changes, I think back to my childhood every time I make it…and shiver a bit every time it comes to adding the cayenne. Haha.
This is a family favorite around here. Pretty simple. Super tasty and makes for amazing leftovers! What is it about meat sauce that tastes so much better the next day!?
I hope you enjoy it as well!
Veggie & Meat Sauce:
*1 Zucchini, diced
*1 Yellow Squash, diced
*1-2 Carrots, peeled and diced
*1-2 Celery Stalks, peeled and diced
*1/2-3/4 Onion, diced
*3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
*6ish Mushrooms, sliced
*Spinach or Kale (optional…)
*1 lb Grass-fed Ground Beef (or ground turkey/chicken or leave out for vegetarian)
*1/2 tsp Sea Salt
*1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
*1/2 tsp Onion Powder (or flakes)
*1/2 tsp Paprika
*1/2 tsp Chili Powder
*Dash of Cayenne Pepper (optional)
*1/4-1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
*2 Bay Leaves
*1-2 good sized squashes (squash? Squashes? Anyway…) – quantity depends on how many you are feeding. I cooked two pretty good sized ones and they served 6 (though really appetites of 5 since two are toddlers) and has some leftover.
*Avocado Oil (or some other clean oil)
*Garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, onion flakes, sea salt, black pepper, and chili powder to sprinkle.
1. Preheat oven to 400* and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
2. Wash the squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and toss. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle on seasonings. Rub them in a bit and then place the squash cut side down on the parchment lines baking sheet.
3. Roast on the middle rack for 35-45 minutes, checking periodically for done-ness. The top (outside) will be sort of soft and starting to brown a bit. Remove from oven, flip over and try scraping out some of the “noodles” to see if it is done. Set aside. *You will want to use a fork to scrape the noodles out in the opposite direction from the original lengthwise cut…in the direction of the inside “noodles”.
4. Meanwhile as the squash is cooking, dice the onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms. Mince the garlic.
5. Heat avocado oil over medium high heat in a large, deep pan or a stock pot, depending on the quantity you are making. Add in the garlic and onions and let cook until they begin to soften.
6. Add in meat of choice, breaking it up as you go, and seasoning with roughly 1/2 the amount of seasonings, minus the bay leaves.
7. Once meat is mostly cooked, toss in the remaining veggies (except the kale or spinach, if you are using it), stir to combine, and sauté briefly.
8. Add in crushed tomatoes, other 1/2 of the seasonings and the bay leaves. Stir to combine.
9. Bring to a boil, cover partway and reduce to a slow simmer for 20-30 minutes. *The longer you’ve got, the better the flavors will meld, but time is King with little people around. Haha. So…simmer for as little or as long as you can, making sure the veggies are cooked to your liking.
10. With a few minutes of simmering to spared, stir in kale/spinach, if you are using it. *If you are using spinach, it cooked super fast and you can practically toss it in just as you are about to plate it. If you are using kale, give it more like 5-10 minutes to cook down.
11. Plate the “noodles” and top with sauce! Enjoy!