This is a recipe that’s an old standard for me. It can be made quickly with many variations, takes a minimal amount of time and is quite easy.
I was given this recipe from a cousin who has now passed on. She said she wasn’t a “cook”, but our family liked everything she made. The recipe calls for ground meat or poultry.
The ingredients have no measurements, as is so often the case with old recipes. I usually start with a pound of ground beef. Brown this well and drain in a colander. I don’t usually drain it, because I make it with healthy oils, like olive or canola oil. I buy 5% ground beef or the leanest chicken or turkey. However, I use dark meat poultry, as I think it has more flavor, but white meat may be used as well. If using ground poultry, I add a few drops of Kitchen Bouquet, which makes the poultry look like beef. While this is cooking, the vegetables (which you can have cleaned and ready) can be cooking.
Saute together one or two chopped onions, several chopped garlic cloves, a handful of chopped parsley (optional) and one chopped green or red pepper. Any other veggies can be added, and the peppers are optional. If you like celery or mushrooms, you can add them as well. Brown and season (I add no salt, and it doesn’t seem it is needed) the vegetables, add the meat and a can of tomato sauce or canned or fresh tomatoes. I use left-over tomatoes, peeled and cooked beforehand, then frozen. If you like basil or oregano, add some fresh or dried to the mixture. I usually chop fresh basil and add that, or whole leaves of basil, removing them at the end.
When this is cooking, a cup of chicken or beef broth may be added; also, a little red wine and/or hot pepper sauce. If you are using fresh or canned mushrooms, they can be added at this point. Then I add a tablespoonful of regular mustard. This gives the mixture an exciting taste, but is optional. It helps make up for the lack of salt.
Meanwhile the pasta should be cooking. Do not overcook. Using not quite finished cooking pasta is good, as when you add it to the mixture, it cooks more. There’s nothing worse than overcooked pasta. The recipe is very forgiving–it tastes good whichever way you make it. You can use thin spaghetti, or mini penne is good. If I’m having young children, I use elbow macaroni. If you make it ahead of time, be sure the pasta is not cooked much before adding, (just until it becomes limp), or you can just keep the sauce, adding the pasta before serving. It goes well with a mild garlic bread or plain fresh French bread and a fresh salad. Enjoy!