Neither Bill nor I have an ounce of Italian blood in us but we think his pasta sauce is pretty darn good. It’s something he’s been working on and perfecting for a long time.
It started out as doctored-up jar sauce. Using Muir Glen Organic Tomato and Basil sauce, (which is pretty good as jarred sauce goes), he’d add onion and meat to it and it was good. Then one time he used tomato puree instead because that’s what we happened to have on hand. Getting the herb/spice/tomato ratio down is the tough part but I like his method. Then we had an aha, or maybe more of a “duh”: tomato puree is simply tomato paste and water! We always have tomato paste on hand so now the recipe has evolved to this:
Bill’s Spaghetti Sauce
Pinch of fennel seeds
1 T. (or more) olive oil
1/2 a large onion
Optional: 2 cloves garlic
1/2 lb. grassfed ground beef
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch crushed red pepper
2 T. tomato paste
One cup (or more) water
1 T. sugar
Optional: Splash of dry red wine
In a skillet, heat the fennel in olive oil over medium heat until toasted. Discard fennel.
Add meat to the pan and brown, stirring occasionally. (For vegetarians, you can certainly eliminate the meat and continue with the rest of the recipe.)
Create a space in the center of the pan and add the onion. Saute until tender.
If you like garlic, you could add a couple of chopped cloves at this point and saute with the onion. Then add the dried herbs, salt, and ground black pepper. Saute for about a minute.
Add a little water to deglaze the pan and scrape up the bits of beef. Clear a spot in the center to add the crushed red pepper. Stir and simmer about a minute.
Add the tomato paste, stirring it into the mixture. Then add water, a little at a time, stirring, to create the sauce. Add more or less water depending on the desired consistency. Add sugar and mix well.
Add a splash of red wine, if desired, cover, and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water or wine to thin sauce if necessary.
Serve with pasta of your choice. We use Pasta Joy brown rice spaghetti because of Bill’s allergies. Top with grated cheese, if desired.