Tuesdays and Thursdays are long days around here. I leave the house around 6:45 so I can get to school in plenty of time for my 8:00 class. I teach the same class three times in a row, have an hour and fifteen minute break (which I use for office hours), teach class for a fourth time, hold more office hours and then fight traffic to come home.
This morning, I got to school and it was 100 degrees in my building. Honest, they actually checked the thermostat. Apparently, the computer was telling the furnace that it was very cold in the building so the heat just kept blasting. My office felt like a sauna (did I mention I have no windows in my office?). It’s difficult motivating college students at 8 am when the AC is working, let alone when it’s 100 degrees in the building. I have to say my students were great this morning. It was hot but we all made it through and eventually they did get everything fixed.
By the time I got home today, the last thing I wanted to do was make dinner. Before I left work, I checked the meal plan. Spaghetti and meat sauce. Huzzah for easy dinners! We had dinner finished in no time and it was delicious. I thought I’d post this easy recipe in case you need some inspiration at the end of a long day. Plus, if you keep some already browned hamburger in the freezer, it’s even easier.
Super quick spaghetti and meat sauce
1/4 to 1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
1/2lb ground beef
A jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used my homemade, recently canned, sauce)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
2 T butter
Start your pasta water first since making the pasta is probably the longest part of the process.
While waiting for the pasta water to boil, add a bit of EVOO to a sauce pan. On medium heat, cook onion and garlic till you can smell it. Add the ground beef to the pan, cooking and stirring until no longer pink. Add the jar of sauce, then add a few tablespoons of water to the jar and swish it around. Gotta get all that yummy goodness out of the jar, right? As it’s simmering, the water will evaporate anyhow and leave behind the flavor that would have gone down the sink. Add the Italian seasoning and let everything simmer together for a few minutes.
When the pasta is almost ready, grab a measuring cup and get some of that starchy cooking water out of the pot. This might be helpful later so just hang on to it for a few minutes. You’ll want to pull the pasta when it’s almost done since it’ll cook a bit more once you mix it with the sauce. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes most people make when cooking pasta. If you take it out when it’s actually ready, it’s going to end up overcooked because it will continue to soften as long as it is hot in the colander. After the past is drained, return it to the pot. Add the sauce on top of the pasta and start mixing to combine. I think tongs are great for this. If you pasta looks a bit dry, add a bit of the pasta water. Keep the pasta water until you’ve finished adding things since the cheese will dry things out a bit also. For extra deliciousness, add the butter and cheese and mix to combine. The butter gives the sauce a smooth flavor that is just amazing. I know it sounds a little odd but it’s really good. I got the tip from an episode of Paula Deene and I always use it when making spaghetti and meat sauce.
Serve this up with some garlic bread and you’ve got a great dinner that’s pretty inexpensive. You can use really cheap sauce with this dish and it’s just as good as if you used a $5 jar of sauce. The Hunts spaghetti sauce in a can works really well for this and my local PriceRite carries it for about a dollar. Add in $1 for spaghetti and $1.50 for ground beef and you’ve got a good dinner cheap. If you don’t have the onion and garlic, you can skip it but it adds nice flavor. You can add some onion powder and garlic powder to the oil if you don’t have fresh on hand. I’ve done that before and it still adds very nice flavor.
This dish reheats very well so the leftovers are great for lunches! I know what I’m having Thursday 🙂
Note: I wrote this post when I got home on Tuesday night but I’m posting it on Wednesday morning.