When Sam announced a couple of weeks ago that she would be inviting some half a dozen friends to spend the weekend, the announcement came with a “preferred menu” — sinigang na baboy, the immortal baked mac, and butterscotch and chocolate fudge combo brownies. Considering how hot summer has been so far this year and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for the next couple of weeks, I thought I’d make a pasta sauce with less meat and more veggies (ergo, more fiber) that should aid digestion. The thought of six people suffering from indigestion over the weekend just wasn’t a very attractive one.
As a rule, however, I don’t serve anything to guests that hasn’t been tried and tested, and approved by my own family. So, about three days before Sam was scheduled to arrive with her friends, I tweaked my secret pasta sauce to incorporate more vegetables and less meat.
The goal: create a sauce that was just as tasty, just as chunky and just as aromatic. This was the result of the experiment. Even the very carnivorous Alex and Speedy approved. A chunky pasta sauce with more vegetables than meat that you can prepare for a large group if you’re having a gathering. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, isn’t it?
- 1 large large onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 large carrot
- 2 to 3 large red tomatoes
- 1 finger chili
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter divided
- 250 grams ground beef
- 100 grams belly bacon finely sliced or roughly chopped, whichever you prefer
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cup tomato sauce preferably homemade
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- sugar to taste
- enough cooked pasta for four people
- shredded cheese to garnish
Finely chop all the vegetables.
Heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the ground beef and bacon. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Add the chopped vegetables to the meat. Sprinkle in the rosemary, tarragon and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered and with occasional stirring, until the vegetables soften.
Pour in the tomato sauce. Stir in the oregano. Taste. Add more salt and pepper, if needed, and sugar to balance the acidity of the tomato sauce. Bring to a gently boil, cover, set the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce is chunky.
Stir and scrape the bottom occasionally. Taste the sauce periodically too and adjust the seasonings, as needed. Always remember that layering flavors is very important. Only pretend cooks add seasoning only at the end of the cooking time.
Turn off the heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir until the butter is melted and incorporated.
Toss in the cooked pasta. Serve with grated cheese on top.
This was the result of the experiment. Even the very carnivorous Alex and Speedy approved. A chunky pasta sauce with more vegetables than meat that you can prepare for a large group if you’re having a gathering. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, isn’t it?
P.S. Sam’s friends had just left. Did they like the food and have a good time? They said they’d be here every weekend. I guess the weekend rendezvous was a success.