The Best Italian Pasta Sauce


Once upon a time, Hubby and I took a beautiful 6-week vacation to Europe. We saw the sights of France, Germany, Belgium and Amsterdam, and then eventually made our way to Italy. We'd made plans to stay in the very tiny town of Bellagio, on Lake Como. A quaint spot by the water, we imagined paddle-boarding and kayaking and spend hours basking by the shore. It was going to be a lovely break from all the big cities.

Things didn't quite go as planned when were welcomed to Bellagio with four days of non-stop torrential downpour. So once we'd had enough of schlepping up and down all four streets of Bellagio in the rain, bored, sopping wet and thoroughly bummed out, we decided to find a indoor activity. We signed up for a brilliant cooking class run by local ladies who took us shopping in the local markets, fed us parmesan cheese and Prosecco and taught us how to make pasta, bruschetta and tiramisu from scratch. Needless to say, it ended up being the greatest day ever.

In fact, one of the best things to come out of our whole trip was this recipe for homemade pasta sauce that they taught us. Italians, man. They sure know how to eat. And while this isn't the typical recipe you'd find on a plant-loving nutritionist's blog, it is a great example of what I like to call "Great Grandma Food". All of the ingredients are real food and there ain't no messing around. You can't go wrong if you make a priority of choosing fresh, good quality produce and meat (as the Italians do). Serve this with some nice pasta noodles (I usually choose brown rice or quinoa pasta) and a sprinkling of aged Romano cheese (or nutritional yeast for a dairy-free option). It has become one of our favourite "date night at home" meals. Enjoy!

1/4 cup extra virgin Italian olive oil
2 stalks of celery
1 medium sized white onion
2 large carrots
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 750ml bottle tomato puree
1/2 cup red wine
1 lb grass fed, organic ground beef
salt & pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Dice the carrots, celery and onion and add them to the pot. Cook until the onions are translucent and soft.
2. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
3. Add the ground beef and break up into small pieces with your spoon. Let it all cook together, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned and there is very little liquid/oil left in the bottom of the pot.
4. Add the wine and cook for a couple minutes, until you can no longer detect the alcohol smell.
5. Add the tomato puree, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Stir to combine. If the mixture seems too thick, add 1/2 cup of water to the pot. 
6. Bring to a simmer, and then taste the sauce for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.



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