Friday, June 3, 2011

Spectacular Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Sauce

I found this super-hearty, intensely-flavored, crock pot pasta sauce in the April/May edition of Taste of Home magazine.

Most crock pot recipes are simple "dump and cover" recipes. This one is a little different. It requires chopping and browning and lots of ingredients. While this sauce is not the typical, no-fuss, crock pot recipe the result is SO worth it! It's my new favorite spaghetti/pasta sauce recipe.

The recipe begins by browning bulk Italian sausage and ground beef (I used ground turkey) with onion, celery,  green pepper (which I omitted because I didn't have one) and garlic.

In between breaking up and stirring the browning meat, I readied the other ingredients. I began by measuring out the sun-dried tomatoes. I happen to really love sun-dried tomatoes. Traditionally, I stir them into cream sauces to intensify the overall flavor of a dish. This was the first time that I have used sun-dried tomatoes in a tomato-based sauce. I partially attribute the use of sun-dried tomatoes (and the addition of tomato paste) to the thick, concentrated tomato flavor that this sauce provides. You need 1 cup of the wrinkly, sun-tanned "fruits", not packed in oil. (Bonus: sun-dried tomatoes are less expensive when purchased this way).

I added the sun-dried tomatoes, (snipped into little pieces with kitchen scissors), minced fresh parsley, rosemary, a bay leaf, salt, and pepper to the bottom of my crock pot.

After adding the sausage mixture to the sun-dried tomatoes and herbs, I also dumped in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and chopped marinated artichoke hearts.

*The recipe calls for 3 cans of diced tomatoes. Usually I keep my pantry stocked with diced tomatoes as they are such a recipe staple. However, when it came time to assemble this recipe, I could only find one can of "plain" diced tomatoes. Not in the mood to run to the store, I substituted a can of mild Rotel diced tomatoes (with green chilies) for one of the missing cans, then I measured an equal amount of prepared spaghetti sauce (also from a jar) to replace the final can. So my recipe would read: I can diced tomatoes, 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies and 1-14.5 oz can of spaghetti sauce.

I also substituted plain tomato paste for the recommended Italian tomato paste. I added a teaspoon or more of Italian seasoning from my spice rack to make up for the missing Italian flavor in the tomato paste.

When all of the ingredients were stirred together in the crock pot, the recipe instructed to put on the lid and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours. Mine did NOT cook for this long. At around 6 hours, I checked on the sauce and realized that it was burning at the bottom and around the edges. And not just a little of the sauce were black and stuck to the bottom of my slow cooker. I turned off the crock pot and scraped the bulk of the sauce away from the burned parts (discarding the charred stuff, of course). When it was time to serve dinner, I simply re-heated the sauce. From my experience, every slow cooker is a little bit different (for instance, mine always cooks a little bit fast), so if it's possible, check your sauce around the 4-5 hour mark. 

This makes a super thick sauce (as you can probably tell from the picture below). Nothing at all like spaghetti sauce from the jar...

Because the sauce was so thick and rich, I decided to give it a larger surface to stick to. I went with a wide egg noodle instead of spaghetti. The big noodles provided more surface area to accommodate the hearty sauce...

Before serving, I sprinkled mine with a bit of Parmesan cheese. Honestly, the flavor of this sauce is so satisfying, it does not need the aid of cheese. But I'm a creature of habit...

Here's a shot that I took after I "trashed" my pasta by tossing it around with the sauce and had taken a few bites. The robust sauce clings to each noodle and is certainly "hearty". It definitely doesn't leave you wanting for anything more, including flavor and/or substance. This is a pasta sauce that will fill you up and leave you completely satisfied. Unlike many of the watery spaghetti sauces from a jar (where you feel like you can still eat dessert after or crave a snack a few hours later)...this sauce is sure to carry you through til' breakfast the next day!

This recipe made more than enough for my family of 4 (with 2 small children). I froze half for another meal and we still had leftovers!

Meaty Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce from Taste of Home12 Servings Prep: 35 min. Cook: 8 hours

1 pound bulk Italian sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) Italian tomato paste
1 jar (7-1/2 ounces) marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), chopped
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt


•In a large skillet, cook the sausage, beef, onion, green pepper,
celery and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink;
drain. Transfer to a 4-qt. slow cooker.

•Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10
hours. Discard bay leaf. Yield: 12 servings (2-1/4 quarts).

Nutrition Facts: 3/4 cup equals 180 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 27 mg cholesterol, 708 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 9 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 1 high-fat meat, 1/2 fat.

My adaptations:

* I omitted the green pepper because 1) I didn't have any AND 2) Although I enjoy their flavor, green peppers always give me "tummy trouble".

* I subbed 1/2 lb. ground turkey for the ground beef because I already had some browned that needed to be used up. If you really want to lighten up this recipe, try Italian turkey sausage too. Turkey sausage is a great way to substitute turkey for beef, because it is so seasoned that no one seems to mind (or notice) the difference.

*Rather than chop the sun-dried tomatoes, I snipped them into little pieces with my kitchen scissors. (It was faster and easier!)

* I only had 1 can of diced tomatoes, so I used "Mild" Rotel tomatoes with diced green chilies and prepared spaghetti sauce from a jar to make up for the other 2 cans.

* I didn't have any "Italian" tomato paste in my pantry, so I used regular tomato paste and then added in some Italian blend seasoning from my spice rack.


Unknown said...

jamaican sauce is special for its blend of spices, which reflects the sweet, spicy, hot and charismatic lifestyle of Jamaica. The blend of spices gives the jerk sauce a very special pungent taste.

Unknown said...

I haven't tried this looks good! I'm going to include it in my book. Thank you for sharing. By the way, This pasta dish looks good enough to eat! LOL. Hugs! Loretta

Saylorsmom said...

Dumb question here...where do you find sun dried tomatoes like you used. I don't think I have ever seen them in my local stores. I live in a small town and Kroger and Walmart are it. lol

Katy ~ said...

Krista, this sounds amazing. I am a huge fan of sundried tomatoes.

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