Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Simple Spaghetti Meat Sauce (Ragu) ~ A Skillet or Slow Cooker Recipe (GAPS & Paleo-Friendly)

Ah, spaghetti.  It is the time of year where all the sauce ingredients are in season.  This is the recipe I grew up enjoying.  Whether you simmer it in a cast iron skillet or let the slow cooker do the work, it is a welcome, hardy sauce that can be enjoyed over regular noodles or spaghetti squash, making it gluten-free as well as GAPS & Paleo-friendly.

Today, I'm making it in a 12-inch cast iron skillet, where the tomatoes will absorb some of the iron, upping the sauce's nutritional content.  First, we'll brown the meat along with chopped onion an bell pepper (I use the food processor to quickly get this done).  Once the meat is brown and the liquid is down to a minimum, we are ready to add the herbs.

I ran out to the garden for some fresh herb goodness and employed some of the homegrown garlic.  Next year I hope to make this sauce with all homegrown ingredients and I get quite a thrill just thinking about that; totally unashamed about my food nerdyness.

Stir in the herbs, a bit of sweetener to activate the tomatoes, and some tomato paste with water.  Here's a lil' small-space, bulk-buying tip:  use tomato paste instead of sauce.  It is easily rehydrated and saves a lot of room in the pantry.  Then we cover the sauce and let it fill the home with happy smells and allow it to simmer for an hour and a half.  Enjoy it over rice noodles or spaghetti squash.

New to spaghetti squash?  Here's whatcha do:  preheat oven to 350ยบ.  Put about 1/2 cup water in a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, and place the halves, open-serface-down, in the dish.  Bake 40-45 minutes.  Allow to cool, then scoop the "noodles" out with a spoon.

Meat sauce with spaghetti squash.
Simple Spaghetti Meat Sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes, cook time: 1 1/2 to 6 hours; Serves 6-8 (hearty servings)
  • 1 pound ground meat of choice (beef, turkey, chicken, venison, moose...)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3 jars BPA-free tomato paste (this is what I use)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup olives, sliced or chopped, optional (if you omit olives, add 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (2 if fresh) basil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (2 if fresh) oregano
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Finely chop or minse onion and bell pepper (I use the food processor for this).  Brown meat in the skillet with minced onion and pepper.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients.  To cook in the skillet, simply cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  To cook in crock pot, put sauce in the slow cooker and simmer on low for 2-6 hours.
  3. Serve over noodles or spaghetti squash, garnish with parmesan cheese, if desired.


  1. Yummy...I have never chopped anything in the food processor. Are you just using the standard shredding attachment that comes with it when you order it or did you purchase something else? I guess I am always skeptical that it will work for some reason but I am jealous when I read so many of your posts! Thanks!

  2. The one got came with 3 blades and I use the mincing blade for this job. I love the food processor and use it at least once a day! :)

  3. I gave up on cutting spaghetti squashes in half- sometimes so hard to do! Instead I stab it all over with a knife (like a potato with a fork), then put it on a cookie sheet- or other baking dish- and put it in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. I usually do this in the early afternoon and then just turn off the oven and leave it until dinner time. It's then cool enough to touch.

  4. Spaghetti squash makes me so happy, lol! :)


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