There is something remarkably comforting about a plate or bowl of warm pasta with a rich, flavorful tomato-meat sauce. Can’t you just taste the deep, tangy, spicy flavors in your mouth? Nice chunks of ground beef, italian sausage, tomatoes and onions suspended in a deep sauce flavored with herbs and red wine…makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I have a recipe I’ve perfected over the years that is just right for our tastes, and is a favorite among friends and family. Here’s my recipe for you to enjoy. Your comments and suggestions are welcome!
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4″ lean ground beef
3/4″ hot italian sausage
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp dried italian seasoning
2 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
4 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped and divided
2 tsp red chile flakes, or to taste
1 24-oz jar of Classico brand tomato basil pasta sauce
1 6-oz can of tomato paste
2 15-oz cans diced tomato in juice (no salt added)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
8 oz button mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 cup rich red wine (such as merlot, zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon)
2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Heat the oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and saute until onions are soft and transluscent, but not browned (about 5 minutes). Push the onions to the sides of the pan, and put the meats (ground beef and the sausage meat removed from its casing) in the center. Using a spoon or spatula, brown the meat, breaking it into chunks as it cooks. When nearly browned, mix in with the onions entirely. Add the fennel seads, italian seasoning, oregano, bay leaves, 2 Tbsp of the basil leaves and the chile flakes. Stir to mix well. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, when you should be able to smell the herbs’ fragrance. Add the pasta sauce, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms and red wine. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Add the salt & pepper. Lower the heat to medium low or just enough to maintain a simmer. Partially cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring often to avoid sticking or burning on the bottom. Before serving, stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of fresh basil, and taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary.
Serve over freshly cooked pasta – you can use whatever pasta you like. I prefer fettuccine noodles. Place a bed of noodles on a plate or in a shallow pasta bowl, top with the sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Use whole basil leaves for garnish if desired.