What’s better than a rich and hearty, comforting meat sauce to spoon atop a big bowl of noodles? This easy, mostly homemade paleo meat sauce tastes like you spent all day making it. It’s even better the best day!
Speaking of noodles, if you’re a pasta lover who’s cut out refined, high carb pastas, you’ve probably ventured into the world of pasta alternatives. We have so many options these days!
- spaghetti squash “noodles.” See mine below.
- spiralized zucchini “zoodles” or sweet potato noodles. Spoodles?
- zero carb miracle noodles (shiritaki noodles)
- chick pea pasta
- lentil pasta
- paleo pastas. These are made with sweet potato.
- brown rice pasta
Exciting! But you’ll likely be disappointed if your pasta alternative isn’t topped with a gem of a sauce, am I right?
Don’t go opening a jar of pasta sauce and dumping it over your faux pasta. I have just the thing for you: An easy half homemade and half store bought sauce that will impress anyone’s Italian grandma. All you need is ground meat, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, and some spices. You could also add some chopped liver for richness and extra nutrients. This sauce is very easy to make; the leftovers keep well for days and taste even better as it ages; it freezes well; and it will dress up any pasta alternative you choose. It’s a dinner party-worthy dish!
Let’s make some sauce.
The Easiest (and Tastiest) Meat Sauce: Step-By-Step Directions
Here is what you’ll need:
- 1 pound organic ground beef, bison, or turkey
- 1 24 ounce jar tomato sauce of your choice. You can get a no sugar added Whole 30 approved sauce, for example, or choose any spices you like
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes. OR about 2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes. Romas work well.
- Garlic, onion, spices
- Large skillet. NOT cast iron. The tomatoes are too acidic and ruin the coating. I use this stainless steel pan for this dish.
Start by dicing 1/2 large yellow onion and however much garlic you like. I usually use 6 cloves, probably more if I’m being honest. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to your pan and heat til it shimmers. Add your onion. Sauté about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Adjust your heat so the garlic doesn’t burn. Medium to medium-high is about right. Continue to sauté everything until translucent, about 7-10 minutes total.
Add ground beef to the pan and break it up so it can brown evenly. I always use some type of organic beef. Make sure it’s 80 – 85% lean and nothing more or it won’t have enough fat.
Add to pan with onions and let it brown. Season a bit with sea salt and ground pepper. You could also add a bit of chopped liver at this stage for increased richness and nutrients.
Let that all mingle together til the beef is browned. Then add the jar of tomato sauce. For this particular batch, I used this Whole 30 approved sauce (no sugar added) that you can get at Whole Foods.
Mix that all together, then add your can of diced tomatoes. It will be pretty liquidy.
Add some (preferably fresh, but dried is fine too) herbs: thyme, oregano, Italian blend. A fat pinch or two. Fresh basil is amazing during the summer. You can also add a big splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar (not Whole 390 approved though). My secret ingredient in sauces and stews is actually tamari or worcestershire. Both give it a nice umami depth.
So now let it simmer until it thickens. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Simmer uncovered and stir every so often. Taste it and season accordingly. Meantime, make your pasta alternative. For this batch I made spaghetti squash.
After about 25 minutes the sauce should be thickening up.
Continue to let it simmer until the liquid has evaporated and the flavors have melded. The tomatoes will release natural sugars and lend a hint of sweetness to it. I usually let it rest a bit before serving.
This recipe feeds 4-6 and will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator. It is better the next day. Enjoy!
Top with parmesan if that’s your thing. (it’s mine).
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ large yellow onion, diced
- 6 + cloves garlic, diced
- 1 pound ground beef, bison, or turkey
- 1 24 ounce jar tomato sauce
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (I like the ones with Italian spice or basil) or ~2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
- 1 tbsp + fresh chopped or dried herbs of your choice
- Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium to medium-high heat til shimmering.
- Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add garlic. Don't let the garlic burn, so keep an eye on the heat. Sauté it all together about 7-10 minutes til translucent.
- Add ground beef to onion mixture and break up thoroughly so it browns evenly, about 7 minutes. Season with a bit of sea salt and pepper.
- Add jar of tomato sauce and stir.
- Add diced tomatoes. Stir.
- Bring to a simmer.
- Add herbs, a splash of red wine and/or balsamic vinegar, and/or splash tamari.
- Let simmer gently for about an hour until very thick. Stir occasionally and taste to correct seasonings.
- Serve over pasta alternative of your choice. Top with freshly chopped basil and/or parmesan.
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. In addition to her coaching practice, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and kick nagging digestive issues for good. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.