The other day, I was scrubbing the guest bathroom toilet when I got to thinking about “the basics” and how that list of “things we need to feel human and content” can be really different for each of us. Clean toilets, for example. That’s one of my basics, but I’ve lived with people (NOT Nate) who clearly didn’t rank that “luxury” in even the top 100 of their list of basics. Ew.
Some more of my basics? Well, in no particular order, they are:
-A really good, stand-by meat sauce
That last one is, obviously, what I’m writing about today. Because way back in the days when I cooked out of necessity only, and never considered anything that happened within a five-foot radius of the oven and stove top to be “fun,” I knew that spaghetti and meat sauce was a meal that I needed to master if I was ever going to eat something other than Lean Pockets. Seriously. It was that bad.
One of my first attempts was with Nate back in the apartment I shared with four other girls (hiya CCG!) during my senior year of college. We went to the grocery store, bought a pound of ground beef, a jar of Ragu, and a box of dried spaghetti. And, surprisingly, that meal wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was pretty good. I think it was the ease and deliciousness that sucked me in.
Ever since that culinary breakthrough, I’ve probably made 20 different pasta with meat sauce dinners. I’ve used canned and fresh tomatoes, incorporated practically every combination of spices, tried ground beef AND turkey, and have learned much from my journey. Namely, that this recipe from Real Simple for Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Mozzarella is really quite good. It utilizes fresh beefsteak tomatoes, an onion and two cloves of garlic, fresh basil, tomato paste, ground beef, and mozzarella balls (I just bought a block of mozzarella and cut it into 1 inch cubes), and, with minimal effort, leaves you with a well-seasoned, cheesy, delicious dinner in about 30 minutes. And who knows, after giving it a go, this recipe might just make it to your “basics” list as well. Hopefully along with antiquated sayings, because I’m starting to be put-off by the strange looks I get when I say “Bully!” or “Play me off, Johnny!”, and this old dog just isn’t willing to learn any new tricks.