Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dinner Times Two...or Three!!!

So, it's Sunday night, and if you're like me you are thinking about your meals for the week. When are you going to grocery shop? What are you going to make that is going to keep you from picking up some quick, unhealthy To Go food? Well, I have a recipe that a lot of my friends have come to LOVE! Not only is it delicious in one meal, but you can make it into two or three meals if you are like me and are cooking for only one or two people. It's a sweet and spicy marinara sauce and it is absolutely delicious! This is definitely one of those recipes to hang on to. So let's first start with the sauce. Then, I'll tell you how to make it into different recipes.

Sweet & Spicy Marinara

FIRE LEVEL: yellow - blue (I will make notes on how to make this not at all spicy to REALLY spicy)

  • Approximately 2-3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 1.5 pounds of meat (**see below for explanation on how to vary this for spice and nutrition)
  • 1 large yellow, sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1, 28 oz. can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
  • 1, 12 oz. can Tomato Paste
  • 1, 12 oz. can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper (if you want to go for a yellow level of spice, omit this ingredient)
  • 2 bayleaves, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (if you want to go for a yellow level of spice, omit this ingredient)

STEP 1: In a large, deep skillet (a.k.a. "dutch oven"), over medium heat, warm up the olive oil.

STEP 2: Add in your onions and all of your spices. Cook for about five minutes, then push them all to the side of the pan.

STEP 3: Add in the meat, probably about a half pound at a time until it is medium rare-type cooked.

STEP 4: Mix together and add in the whole tomatoes. Before placing the whole tomatoes into the pan, poke them with a knife so that they seep out al their juices.

STEP 5: Then add the paste and the sauce

STEP 6: Mix it all together and reduce the heat to low. Partially cover and simmer for about 40 minutes until the sauce is pretty thick.


What meat I use usually depends on how healthy or spicy I want to be. You want to most likely use a mixture of meat and sausage. For a completely lean option you can use all turkey meat and turkey sausage. However, keep in mind this usually produces a lot of juice so you may need to strain some of that out. If you don't want any spiciness, you can cut out sausage all together. I recommend a mixture of a 1/2 pound of sausage, 1/2 pound of ground sirloin, and a 1/2 pound of ground white turkey meat. I think this gives you the best spice/lean/taste mixture.

You can use this recipe for a lot of meals. I try to start the week with just the sauce over spaghetti noodles or penne pasta. Serve with some warm French and/or garlic bread and you have a great Italian meal.

I use the leftover sauce to make a delicious lasagna. Boil lasagna noodles until they are al dente. Mix some Ricotta cheese with garlic, ground pepper, and Italian seasoning. Layer the sauce, noodles, and cheese mixture into a casserole dish (In that order). Top with Mozzarella cheese, cover with foil, and bake in the oven at 325 degrees until the cheese is completely melted.

The third option is to use the sauce as a dipping sauce. You can serve it with warm bread and an assortment of cheeses for an Italian appetizer/meal.

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