Sunday, January 23, 2011

Penne with Slow Cooked Tomato Beef Sauce

We had another snow storm a few days ago, and now it is Cold with a capital C (the wind chills supposedly will to approach -35F tonight but I have NO plans to be outside). Nevertheless, there is wonderful soft fresh snow, blue skies and endless cross country ski trails, and after 10min of skiing I am getting warm no matter the actual temperature. However, coming back from skiing I am ravenous! Pasta, please, with slow-cooked tomato sauce over vegetables!

2 oz penne pasta, cooked according to instructions
1 cup frozen vegetable, microwaved for 3.5 min

Slow-cooked tomato sauce:
1/2 large can of Wholefoods crushed tomatoes with basil
1/2 TB olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cubed
2 stalk celery, washed, and cubed
1 bay leaf
100 g lean ground beef (you can leave this out)
3 TB red wine
2 TB Trader Joes red pepper spread
handful baby spinach leaves.

In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic, and once translucent add in the carrot and celery. Saute everything on medium-low until slightly soft. Add in the beef and sautee for 3-4 min. Add in the red wine, and stir. Simmer until the wine is cooked off. Add in the crushed tomatoes and 1/4 (tomato) can of water and the bay leaf. Stir, heat until bubbly and then pour the tomato sauce into a small slow cooker, which is set to high. Add in the red pepper spread. It takes about 2h to cook on high, or you can let it simmer for 4-5 h on low. I made it around lunch time, and had it ready when I came back from skiing at 4pm. Before serving, add in a handful of baby spinach leaves, which should wilt down immediately in the hot sauce.

Note: in my opinion, frying the onions and garlic first takes out the 'raw' taste of the sauce (instead of adding all ingredients straight to the slow cooker), and the sauce gets a more caramelized, complex flavor while making the beef really tender during slow cooking, especially if you have an inexpensive cut of beef.

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