So I am having problems naming this dish/recipe. It’s a recipe for a quick, simple tomato sauce which can be used for a baked (or unbaked) pasta. It’s super flexible – you can choose to add meat or not, and you can add whatever veggies you choose or have available. This is a good dish for people just learning how to cook and/or are on a budget and/or are short of time. (Okay, that was a lot of “and/or”, but you get the drift.)
Feel free to modify this recipe to tailor it to your taste buds and requirements. The last time I made this was probably when I was in graduate school, so it has been a while. Both the hubs and E enjoyed it, I wasn’t so enthused as they were, but it was a quick meal that our family ate for a few days so I can’t complain. I didn’t use ground meat but added in some leftover meatballs I had in the freezer instead.
Quick Tomato Sauce (for pasta)
- 24oz (1 jar) tomato sauce (you can choose any tomato based variety you like)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 carrot, diced (you can also just use frozen carrots)
- About 1 cup frozen vegetables like corn/peas/carrots etc. (optional)
- 1 lb ground beef/pork/chicken/turkey (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1lb pasta, cooked according to directions. If you are going to bake the pasta, reduce the cooking time by half.
- About 2 cups grated melting cheese (e.g. mozzarella), for topping if baking pasta
- Heat large frying pan/pot and add in ground meat, if using. Cook till meat is browned and then add in the diced onions, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 3 minutes more on medium to medium-low heat. If you aren’t using any meat, add in about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and fry the diced onions, bay leaf and red pepper flakes for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the garlic and fry for another minute.
- Add in the carrot, fry for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the red bell pepper and zucchini. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the tomato sauce. Bring to boil and then simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in frozen vegetables, if using.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- You can serve the sauce over pasta as is. If baking the pasta, mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Pour it into a 8x11inch casserole dish, sprinkle cheese on top and bake for about 25 minutes in a preheated (350°F) oven.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.