Every kitchen needs a good spaghetti sauce in its repertoire. I’ve tried many over the years and have finally found one I’m sticking with, though I reserve the right to tweak or substitute now and again. I like to add other herbs depending what is fresh in the garden or just depending on my mood. Think italian seasoning blend (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and savory) – any and all of these are great in a tomato sauce.
This recipe doesn’t come from any one place but pulls from various experiences, culling the things that I love like italian sausage and fresh herbs. If you don’t have fresh herbs handy, feel free to substitute dried herbs. When substituting dried for fresh, you should generally use a ratio of 1 teaspoon dried for 1 tablespoon fresh (a one-to-three ratio); however, dried spices lose their pungency as they age so you may need to use more. When using dried herbs, rub them between your palms as you put them into your sauce to help draw out more of the flavor.
Many spaghetti sauces will call for a long simmer which is why using a slow cooker for this sauce is a fantastic option. I love putting this together in the morning and letting it simmer and fill the house with its aroma throughout the day. The ingredient list looks like a lot of work, but it’s really only maybe 30 minutes of prep. And you can always make it the night before, leave it in the refrigerator overnight, and set on the slow cooker in the morning.
This recipe makes a lot, intentionally. I freeze the extra for nights when I won’t have a lot of time for a hearty meal. To thaw, just place in the refrigerator in the morning to have ready to heat in the evening.
Hearty Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
Makes about 16 cups
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 1/2 lb mild italian sausage, ground (use hot italian sausage for more kick)
28 oz diced tomatoes
28 oz crushed tomatoes
4 oz tomato paste
1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
1 tsp fresh oregano, minced
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
A dash or more of crushed red pepper for heat, if desired
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh parmesan, grated or shaved, if desired
Sweat onion, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until onions are translucent.
Add ground beef and italian sausage and cook until browned. Drain the meat mixture, and then add to the slow cooker with the remaining ingredients (except for the parsley which will be added at the end). Stir to combine, and then set the slow cooker to low and cook for 6-8 hours.
In the last 15 minutes of cooking, boil spaghetti noodles or other pasta (my preference is linguine) in a pot of salted water until al dente. Stir in chopped parsley to the sauce in the last 5 minutes.
Top with fresh grated or shaved parmesan. Bon appetit!
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 4 months. To thaw, place in refrigerator for 8 hours.
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