I love love love spaghetti. Actually, any type of pasta or Italian dish. I must have been Italian in a former life. The only down side to loving pasta so much is that it's very calorie dense.
Luckily, the pasta is just a vehicle for the flavorful sauce. And the sauce itself can easily be made quite healthy.
Although a true Italian probably doesn't drench their pasta in sauce the way we Americans do.
Anyway, I like to swap out the pasta for vegetables when I'm watching my calorie intake. You can get as creative as you want, a lot of things work. A popular choice is spaghetti squash because when you scoop it out with a fork, it looks just like angel hair spaghetti. And having that visual likeness makes you feel as though you aren't missing out.
Another thing I've tried are yellow squash and zucchini ribbons. You get thick flat pieces when you use a potato peeler. But last night I went one step further. I just used zucchini and I sliced them up with the mandolin on the julienne setting. Perfect!
I sauteed them in a little olive oil and Italian spices.
See how beautiful they look on the plate??!!
And the finished product after I top it with my delicious home made meat sauce.
My sauce is been something that I have perfected over the years. Kind of like my "pomeletes". I thought about sharing the "secret ingredient" with you today. But why would I want to do that? Cuz I'm awesome, that's why. And I like to share.
My husband is sort of kind of a finicky eater. If I mess with the good old basic recipes, chances are, he won't like it. And forget about trying to make it healthier. For instance, if I use ground turkey instead of ground beef, he turns up his nose. Although, most of the time I think it's all in his head. He puts up a mental block to any sort of healthy substitutes, even if you really can't taste the difference. I've learned NOT to make any mention of these substitutions until AFTER he's eaten it. Usually, I'll ask him "So how did you like it?" and he'll say it was good. Then I drop a bombshell like "well there was ground broccoli in the sauce" or "I used ground chicken". At that point, he'll say something like, "I thought the texture was weird". HAHA
Last night, I took a risk with my sauce. But after I tasted it (and melted into the floor) I knew I had a hit on my hands. Andreas took ONE bite and immediately raved about the sauce. I thought, should I tell him??? I waited until he was half way through his plate before I said, "Wanna know my secret ingredient?" And he looked at me with fear in his eyes and said, "There's something weird in here, isn't there" So, he started taking guesses....protein powder, turkey, and some others I can't remember. So I waited. He cleaned up two big helpings before I laid it on him.
To which he said, "I knew it was gonna be something gross!" He does NOT like anchovies. But he did like my sauce. Success! It sort of reminded him of store bought Puttanesca, which we both love.
I used to make my spaghetti sauce with cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce (no salt added, of course) but the kids never liked the chunks of tomatoes. So I finally caved and started using big cans of crushed tomatoes instead. I had to compromise on the salt issue because they don't sell any "no salt added" versions at our grocery store. But, to my surprise, I really do like the sauce better using crushed tomatoes. It gives it a more authentic feel.
So, without further ado, Charlotte's AWESOME spaghetti meat sauce recipe ;)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 oz anchovies
1/2 cup kalamata olives
garlic and herb spices
1/3 cup red wine
fresh chopped basil
fresh grated Parmesan (NOT the shaky cheese)
Sprinkle ground beef with garlic and herb spices and brown in a fry pan. Turn down heat and add the can of crushed tomatoes. Put kalamata olives and anchovies with a little of the juice in a small blender (I like my Magic Bullet for these small jobs) and blend until smooth paste. Add paste to the pan. Add the wine (use more or less than this recipe calls for, according to your taste). Simmer on low heat for at last 30 minutes to let the flavors blend together. Add chopped fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan right before serving.