I grew up on this sauce; it was always a family favourite and is now a guaranteed win with the kid. It’s also a great way to cram a ton of vegetables into your diet…and clean them out of your fridge.
Most of the measurements are rough: alter them to your tastes. The quantities below are more than will fit into my 7-quart crock pot (I usually skip a couple of the vegetables). I freeze the extra sauce in small batches (2 to 4 cups) for easy weekday meals.
2 lbs ground beef
½ to 1 tbsp steak seasoning or Montreal steak spice
¼ cup Memories of Kobe sauce (optional)
4 cans (798 mL each) crushed or ground tomatoes
10 oz spinach or other leafy green, fresh or frozen (optional), chopped fine
olive oil for frying
3 large (grapefruit-size) Spanish onions, diced small
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs mushrooms, cremini or white, sliced or diced small
2 to 4 zucchinis and/or summer squash (optional), diced small
1 eggplant (optional), diced small
a few stalks celery and/or fennel (optional), diced small
3 or 4 sweet red/yellow/orange peppers, peeled (optional), diced small
1 to 3 tbsp dried oregano
1 to 3 tbsp dried basil
1 to 2 tbsp dried Italian seasoning mix
1 to 4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
In a large skillet, brown and crumble ground beef with the steak spice. Near the end of cooking, add the Memories of Kobe sauce. Place in crock pot set on high, along with tomatoes and spinach.
In batches, use the same skillet to lightly brown each of the vegetables in olive oil and a bit of salt, then add them to the crock pot. Don’t skimp on the oil during this stage: the sauce is unsatisfying without it. You only need a tablespoon or so per batch, it adds depth of flavour to the sauce, and in the end it really isn’t that much oil when divide among six or seven quarts.
Once all the vegetables are in, add in some seasoning and give it a good stir. Cook on (preferably) low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally. (Sauce can also be simmered for an hour or two on the stovetop over low heat; keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.) About an hour before mealtime, taste the sauce and add more seasoning as desired.
Serve over whatever pasta you like (reserve some pasta water to thin the sauce if desired), or polenta, spaghetti squash, mashed potatoes, rice, whatever!