Firstly – I am not known for making ATTRACTIVE foods. However, this has been a family favourite since I started making it when I was about 12 (apparently my brothers liked it better than my Mum’s recipe, because it is more ‘tomato-y’). This recipe makes 6-7 serves for myself and Hubby, but he isn’t a ‘big eater’. Just a reminder that any measurements for “loose ingredients” are approximate – I tend not to measure anything :S If I say can/packet/tub/etc, I will specify how much the package contains in Australia.
- 500g beef mince
- 1 x 440g can diced tomatoes
- 90g tub tomato paste (or near approximation in ‘blobs’ from a larger container)
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 100g sliced mushrooms
- herbs/spices/seasonings to taste
- 500g packet dry pasta (whatever shape/size)
Optional extras (for most of these, every 2 cups of extras will mean an additional measure of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onion & garlic)
- red lentils (about 1 cup for every 500g mince – stretches meal to a further 3-4 servings). Pre-cook these (until almost cooked through) if you’re using them, it makes it a lot easier.
- Other veges – spinach & capsicum get added as-is, but I’ve been known to mash up various other veges (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, pumpkin) after they’ve been steamed and ‘hide’ them in the sauce – this started as a method of getting kids I was babysitting to eat their veges
- Fill pot you’re using to cook the pasta with water and a bit of salt and put it on to boil. In a frypan or wok, heat some oil and add chopped onion and crushed garlic. Cook until onion is softened and translucent. Add mince and cook until browned.
- Add mushrooms & other “solid” veges (i.e. not the mushed-up ones) and cook until softened.
- By this point, the water in my pasta pot is usually boiling. Add pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking together and testing pasta every minute or so after it starts to look “ready”.*
- Add tinned tomatoes, tomato paste & herbs/seasonings/spices to taste, as well as a little bit of water (I just put a bit in the can from the tomatoes and tip it in. I think it’s about 1/2 cup for people who want measurements). Add red lentils and mushed-up veges at this point if you’re adding them.
- Simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to desired thickness. Add additional herbs/seasonings/spices if desired.
- Once pasta is ready, drain but DO NOT RINSE.**
- Serve with herbs/parmesan/other cheese as desired.
* As to a specific description of what this looks like, the pasta will look less like the yellow translucent bits that came out of the packet and more like the opaque white-ish colour cooked pasta is. The best way to know what the texture of ‘al dente’ pasta should be is to go to a good italian restaurant and order a simple pasta dish. THAT’S what we’re aiming for with pasta. I find short pastas (like penne & spiral) to be the hardest to stuff up, so if you’re new to cooking pasta (or have had little success in the past), use something like that. Long pastas tend to clump if not cooked correctly, and short/round ones (macaroni, shells, risoni) tend to just go to mush if not cooked correctly.
** Rinsing will remove the starches that help the sauce stick to the pasta. Only rinse pasta when you are going to be using it cold (like for a salad).
This recipe freezes well, and I portion it up into single-serve containers (pasta & sauce).
This could be cooked in a slow-cooker if you wanted to, just follow step 1 then add everything to the slow cooker (without the additional water) and cook Low=8hrs (or High=4hrs).