Made From Scratch: Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

This rich and meaty spaghetti sauce tastes like you spent the day stuck in the kitchen stirring a pot on the stovetop. No one needs to know that the slow cooker did most of the work – that can be our little secret.


Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce || A Less Processed Life

Back in my vegetarian days, I used to joke that I was really a "pastatarian," as I ate pasta for dinner more often that not. Truth be told, I was kind of a terrible vegetarian, mostly due to the fact that I had no desire to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making dinner for one after a long day of work.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce || A Less Processed Life

Oh, how the times have changed. Not only am I no longer a vegetarian, but now I actually enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce || A Less Processed Life

However, my weekdays are still busy with work, and when dinnertime rolls around, I'm all for whatever's quick and easy to put together. This slow cooker spaghetti sauce requires a little bit of work (about 30 minutes) at the beginning, but then the slow cooker works its magic for 6-8 hours.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce || A Less Processed Life

And when the work day is done, all you need to do is cook up some pasta (I'm a fan of angel hair pasta, which takes less than 5 minutes to cook), and dinner is ready and on the table. Now that's my kind of meal!

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium carrots (3/4 cup), finely diced
1 stalk celery (1/2 cup), finely diced
1/2 large onion (1 cup), finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound grass-fed ground beef (90 percent lean)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
pinch nutmeg
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup 1 percent organic milk
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
1 bay leaf

To serve: 
cooked pasta, such as spaghetti
fresh basil, for garnish

1. Add the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the carrot, celery, and onion, and saute until the vegetables have softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomato paste, and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
2. Add the beef, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, and cook it until just browned. Stir in the thyme, parsley, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, thyme, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper flakes.
3. Stir in the milk and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until the milk has reduced completely and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and simmer again until almost completely reduced, about 10 minutes. Transfer the beef mixture to the bowl of a 6-quart slow cooker.
4. Strain the tomatoes through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the juices. Carefully add the tomatoes to the slow cooker, smashing them against the side of the slow cooker with a spoon or smooshing them through your fist to break the tomatoes down into bite-size pieces.
5. Add the bay leaf to the slow cooker and stir everything together. If the mixture looks too dry, add a little bit of the reserved tomato juice.
6. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. 
7. When only 30 minutes of cooking time remains, check the sauce. If it looks very liquidy, remove the lid to let the excess liquid evaporate. If it looks too dry, stir in a little bit of the reserved tomato juice. 
8. Serve the sauce over pasta and garnish with fresh basil. You can keep the leftover sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week. 


Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce || A Less Processed Life

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