Dennis and I have been eating out a lot now that I work through the dinner hour. I finally got fed up with the unhealthy food and the weight gain we’re both experiencing, and decided to cook up enough real homemade food on my days off to last us for the week. This meat sauce was the first thing I threw together, and Dennis was in heaven!
I’m not completely back on the healthy bandwagon, but this meal is a good start. The sauce is hearty, flavorful & robust, and very low in fat. I chose to sweeten the sauce mainly with carrots, and you may find this balances the acidity of the tomatoes enough for your taste, but I decided to add some agave nectar to mine to sweeten it a little more. You could also try upping the carrots to 2 cups.
Serve this over whole wheat pasta along with a salad and you’ve got a nutritious, delicious meal!
Healthy Slow Cooker Meat Sauce
1 pound bison, venison, or lean ground beef
2 links mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 tablespoons agave nectar or sugar
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste
In a large skillet, cook the meat and onions until the meat is brown and the onions are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Do not drain unless you used meat with a higher fat content. If you used the suggested meat, you will have a little broth in the pan with only a tiny amount of fat, which I like to leave for flavor.
Meanwhile, add the undrained tomatoes and carrots to a 4-quart (or larger) slow-cooker and puree using an immersion blender (if you don’t have an immersion blender, do this with your regular blender). Stir in the tomato paste, agave nectar, oregano, basil, garlic salt, bay leaves, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Stir in the meat mixture and cover.
Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 10-12 hours, stirring caramelized sides back into the sauce. When complete, stir well, fishing out the bay leaves, and add salt to taste. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.
Recipe source: inspired by The Cooking Photographer