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Cavatelli with a Simple Tomato-Meat Sauce

A few weeks ago, I visited my aunt and she taught me how to can tomatoes using the fresh tomatoes and vegetables from her garden. Tonight, it was rainy and cold so I decided to break away from the salads and make a simple cavatelli pasta with delicious sauce.

I honestly had no idea just how much work it took to can tomatoes, so I admire my aunt even more for the amount of work she puts in to growing, picking, and canning her vegetables. We did the process from start to finish with these tomatoes and I ended up with 30 cans of tomato sauce and salsa and it was a really fun learning experience.


Serves: 2-3

Cost: $

Skill Level: Easy

Time to Make: 1 hour 10 minutes (30 minutes inactive)



1 14.5-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Or you can boil, blanche, peel, core, and roughly chop 6-8 fresh tomatoes)

1 carrot

1 stalk of celery

1 onion

8 cloves garlic

12 ounces mixed mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, or portobello)

1 teaspoon dried parsley or 2 teaspoons fresh parsley

1 teaspoon onion powder

Crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste

16 ounces ground sirloin (90/10 fat ratio)

Pinch of sugar

8 ounces cavatelli

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, for garnish


Prepare Ingredients: Chop the mushrooms however you like. I usually thinly slice the cremini mushrooms from top to bottom and I dice the shiitake or portobello caps. Finely chop the carrot, celery, and onion. Mince the garlic. Mince a teaspoon or so of parsley and reserve for garnish.

Start the Sauce: Heat a slick of oil over medium high heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the diced carrot, onion, and celery and cook until softened, about 6-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic, mushrooms, and a shake of crushed red pepper and cook until the mushrooms are well browned, about 8-10 more minutes. Remove from the pot and transfer to a bowl.

Add the beef to the same skillet and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, about 10-12 minutes until well-browned and cooked through. Add the cooked vegetables back to the pot and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes (fresh or canned), onion powder, dried (or fresh) parsley, and a pinch salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover, and cook for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. (I recommend 1 hour!)

Cook the Pasta: Cook the pasta according to package instructions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.

Finish the Sauce: Taste the sauce and season with salt, pepper, and a bit more crushed red pepper if desired. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water.

To Serve: Divide pasta between plates and sprinkle with a bit of fresh parsley and a crack of fresh black pepper if desired. Enjoy!

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