Meat sauce is a great Sunday dinner: you can make it in the afternoon and let it simmer all day until you are ready to eat. The flavors only get better the longer it cooks. But meat sauce can also be a quick and easy week night meal that you can throw together after a long day. It’s hearty and chunky and extremely satisfying, especially on a cold night. This is a healthier and easier version I make during the week versus a Sunday sauce. I cut out some of the prep work and ingredients so I can make it faster, this time in about 20 minutes. Shells are the perfect pasta for this dish because they hold the meat sauce well.
It starts with your ingredients. I bought 3/4 of a pound of very lean all natural beef. For some extra flavor I added a 1/4 lb of ground pork. I used about 3/4 lb of whole wheat shells so we could enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day. Season the meat with salt and pepper.
Saute 1/2 a white onion and a few cloves of garlic in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. (If time isn’t an issue for you, add finely chopped carrots and celery for more flavor.)
Add some fresh chopped basil and red pepper flakes for some heat.
Add the meat into the same pan and using a potato masher, gently separate the meat.
Brown the meat on medium to high heat. When most of the pink is gone, add a can of san marzano tomatoes. Season again. I also added a tablespoon of tomato paste to thicken up the sauce a bit. If you want more saucy and less chunky, add in a small can of tomato puree in addition to the chopped tomatoes.
When your 1lb of whole wheat shells are al dente, mix all ingredients together.
Add in parmesan cheese and fresh chopped basil. Pair with a glass of red wine and enjoy a great ending to your day.