2, Mar 2007
spaghetti with meat sauce

Basic spaghetti. I wanted to do something good but fairly easy, so I made meat sauce rather than bother with full-on meatballs. The sauce is based on a mix, with various things added.

1/2 lb lean ground beef
a handful of spaghetti (I like Ronzoni’s whole wheat blend thin spaghetti)
4 cloves garlic, food-processorized
4-6 white button mushrooms
1 red jalapeno pepper, sliced, with seeds
grated fresh parmesan cheese
6oz can tomato paste
2c water
packet french’s “thick and zesy” spaghetti sauce
olive oil, ground fennel seed, rosemary, and thyme

start water boiling in a pot. heat olive oil to medium high in a skillet. add the garlic and jalapeno and saute until you can smell them. add the meat. break it up but not too much — leave chunks like mini meatballs. brown the meat. add the tomato paste, about half the water, the mushrooms, and the herbs. reduce heat to medium. at this point you can simmer (reduce heat after a few minutes), adding water as needed for as long as you like. when the water boils, add the spaghetti and cook until done (7 min for the Ronzoni). serve the sauce over the pasta in a bowl, topped with parmesan.
The french’s is a pretty good mix and makes things simple, but it’s full of sodium and who-knows-what else, and this time it didn’t come out flavorful/spicy enough. Next time I’d do things the same but replace the mix with fresh herbs and spices. More fennel seed or anise, plus standard Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, thyme, etc), and then hot red peppers for spice. To better bring out the spices and let the mushrooms saute and absorb flavor, next time I’ll try sauteing the mushrooms separately with the garlic and herbs (except the fennel, which goes with the meat), and then adding them to the meat/sauce toward the end. Using sausage meat (not in casings) in place of the beef is good.