Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce

It's been a crazy day at our house -- lots of errands to run, a sympathy card to mail, a visit to the funeral home on deck for this afternoon, presents for grandma's birthday to buy, you name it.  So I hadn't had time to really think about dinner until I got home after school pick-up and more errands...and realized I had nothing cooking.


This is where having a few staples in my pantry comes in really handy.  And after about 15 minutes of prep time?  I've got some seriously yummy spaghetti sauce simmering in the crockpot, that will keep until we all finally make it back home.

I make a meat sauce -- because The Peanut loooooves meatballs and meat sauce -- but I make it with lean ground turkey because I want a lower fat content for my family.  I up the flavor with spices and one beef bouillion cube, and it ends up tasting like a rich and decadent meat sauce.

Here's the recipe:

Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce

1 jar tomato and basil pasta sauce
1 can tomato paste + 2 full tomato paste cans warm water
1 can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1 lb. lean ground turkey, browned in a skillet with 1 tsp. minced garlic
1 beef bouillion cube
2 Tbsp. Penzey's Tuscan Sunset Italian spice blend
1 tsp. oregano

Pour the tomato products, water, spices and beef bouillion cube into the crockpot and turn it on LOW.  Meanwhile, heat a nonstick skillet sprayed with a little cooking spray on medium-high heat.  Brown a pound of lean ground turkey with 1 tsp. minced garlic (mine came from a jar from the fridge).  I sometimes also brown this with a finely minced onion and some shredded zucchini, but I didn't this time because I was in a hurry -- but this ups the flavor and fiber content a bit when I can do that.  Drain the turkey to reduce fatty juices, then pour browned turkey into crockpot.  Turn on HIGH and cook 4 hours or so until flavors have thoroughly melded and meat and tomatoes are cooked through together.

This is an incredibly yummy sauce, so easy, and my picky daughter gobbles it up.  I sometimes add turkey meatballs if I have them handy.  I'll share the recipe I use for homemade ones at some point soon -- I just make them ahead of time, bake them int he oven, and freeze in portions that make it easy to grab a bag of meatballs out of the freezer and toss into the sauce to cook as it heats.

(Photo via TheCulinaryGeek.)

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