Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's on the Menu: Slow Cooker Spaghetti

(Photo courtesy of Fastily)

I just love spaghetti. I can't help it, I always have. Spaghetti and milk have always been my favorite combination, although I know that's anathema to a true Italian. (My Dad is half Italian so I have 25% going for me! I still like my milk with spaghetti though.)

Anyway, I love making spaghetti but don't like how long it takes standing over the stove. The best spaghetti I have tasted in my entire existence is made by my mother in law, who has absolutely perfected this dish over the last 40+ years of marriage and cooking. (Can you imagine how many meals she has cooked in her lifetime?! God bless that woman!)

My husband was the blessed recipient of amazing spaghetti growing up, so he has quite an affinity for it. I've tried to duplicate her original recipe, which I've observed her do many times when we lived in California, but I've never been able to make it quite the same. It's her magic touch, I guess.

However, I still give it my best shot on a regular basis. And now I've adapted it for my slow cooker so that I can still make this time-consuming dish, and keep hubby happy. :)

Last night our three year old helped me make dinner- we had so much fun, and I know your family will enjoy this dish too!

Buon Appetito!

Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs (Serves 6)

3 lbs organic grass fed ground beef
2 tablespoons organic butter
2 organic yellow onions, chopped
3-4 cloves organic garlic, diced
2- 2.5 teaspoons sea salt, such as Real Salt, to taste
1 large handful fresh organic basil, chopped
Several sprigs fresh organic thyme, rosemary, and oregano (My mother in law always uses them fresh, I'll admit, in the winter when my garden isn't growing, I used these dried, but I always buy fresh basil)
2 28 oz. cans organic crushed tomatoes
1 package Ezekiel sprouted spaghetti, or organic brown rice spaghetti
Your slow cooker

By midmorning (I like to do it by noon, although there's no magical time!) on the day you want to serve, shape all three pounds of ground beef into meatballs in your slow cooker. I just break off the pieces into balls and put them all in, they can layer over each other and that's fine!

Turn the slow cooker to high. Let the meat cook on its own for at least several hours.

Add the cans of crushed tomatoes to the slow cooker, stirring gently to incorporate the sauce into the meatballs, but taking care not to break them up.

Meanwhile, in a pan, saute the onions and herbs in the butter, until the onion is very translucent but not burned, and the herbs are wilted but not burned. (I find myself cooking them a little longer than if I were going to be putting them into a traditional stovetop pot, since they won't cook as intensely in the slow cooker, you don't want too potent of onions and herbs in your sauce!)

Add the garlic and saute until fragrant.

Add the garlic, onions, and herbs to the tomato sauce/beef mixture in the slow cooker. Stir to incorporate, and leave the slow cooker on high.

Let this cook together several hours. (The longer the better) If you feel it starts to boil too much, turn the slow cooker down, but make sure the ground beef is cooked through.

Boil your pasta and serve!


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