Friday, February 25, 2011

Tomato Meat Sauce over Cheese Tortellini

Sauce over the tortellini with a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

I think knowing how to make your own meat sauce is such a great skill. Who doesn't like spaghetti? And on a busy night, this meal is so fast that it's a breeze to whip up. I love how well the sauce saves, too. I make a little extra and have lunch for a few days. The sauce reheats in the microwave nicely, and what could be better on a cold, cloudy winter day than some warm noodles with your homemade sauce? Not to mention the bright color of this sauce seems so much...better?...than sauce from a can. Pairing the meat sauce with cheese tortellini makes it extra filling. I was going to make sides but we were so full from one bowl that I didn't even bother.  Few dishes + filling and satisfying meal = great in my book. :)

PS: This is my own recipe that I made up. I started with a marinara recipe from Rachael Ray and went from there to make a heartier, meat-including sauce. I'm not an experienced cook - at all! - so if I can make something up that is actually easy and tasty, so can you! Try it!

*3 cloves garlic, minced
*2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
*2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*2 cans (28  ounces each) crushed tomatoes
*15-20 leaves fresh basil, roughly cut or torn
*2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped from stem and chopped
*A handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I used a few shakes of dried parsley and thought it was just great)
*tablespoon brown sugar (This is my addition, I like how it softens the bitterness of the tomatoes and makes for a warmer sauce.)
*Italian seasoning to taste (basil, oregano, garlic, rosemary)
*Ground beef or ground turkey (I prefer ground turkey because it's healthier, cheaper, and tastes pretty much the same when mixed in a sauce or other dish.)

*Combine olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes in a saucepan. When the garlic sizzles add the tomatoes, basil, oregano and seasoning as desired. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and allow the sauce to simmer while you work on the meat.

*Place ground beef or turkey on a skilled over medium to high heat, depending on your stove. Use a spatula or turner to turn meat and break it apart as it cooks. If you use the lean ground turkey, the juices will run clear and then be reabsorbed as the meat browns and finishes cooking. With ground beef you may need to drain the meat of its fat and juices after it's finished cooking. Paper towel or a strainer will work just fine.

*Add the cooked meat to the sauce, stirring it together well. Allow the meat sauce to simmer for at least ten minutes to absorb all the flavors. The longer you let them simmer together the richer the sauce will take and more it will thicken.

*When you're about read for dinner place the tortellini - or any pasta you'd like - in a pot of salted boiling water. The tortellini cooks fast! Less than five minutes.

*Place tortellini in a shallow bowl and top with sauce. Sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top and enjoy your quick meal! :)

All the ingredients for this easy and yummy meal.

Mixing the ground turkey into the sauce.

My sauce all mixed together.

So the box of the tortellini told me to cook it until the interior temperature was...wait, take pasta's temperature? Easier way: once the tortellini rises to the top, it's done. So much simpler.

So delicious and super filling!

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