What is one of your fall-back dinners when you really have nothing planned but need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so? One of our go-to recipes is based on pasta. We pretty much always have some in the pantry, and with a ground meat of some type such as beef, turkey, lamb, or sausage this becomes the basis for dinner.
And if there is no homemade red sauce in our freezer, we always have a commercial jar or two in the cupboard. Our current choice happens to be the great tasting White Linen brand with a low-sugar content which can be found at Costco. It weighs in at a hefty 40 ounces allowing for lots of add-ins.
We start with about a pound of pasta cooked to package directions, brown up a pound of ground meat, sauté chopped veggies and add some fresh herbs like basil or oregano. Top with grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Reggiano, pair with a side salad, dinner done!
There is so much flexibility with this meal concept. With a plethora of jarred sauce options, just select your favorite. However, you may have to use more than one jar’s worth if the volume is much less than 32 ounces. The following list of ingredients is for reference only—adjust the amounts according to your own preferences.
Every autumn we always harvest any leftover basil from our herb garden and blend it with some olive oil, fill silicone ice cube trays with the mixture, and freeze the cubes. They come in handy when making soups, dips, and sauces. We threw one in this sauce along with the jarred marinara.
Quickie Pasta with Meat Sauce and Vegetables
- 40 oz. jar marinara sauce
- 1 lb. ground meat such as beef, turkey, lamb or sausage
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, 3/4″ chop
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 8-12 oz. mushrooms, cremini or white, roughly chopped
- 1 lb. pasta, cooked according to package directions
- Grated Parm or Pecorino for topping
- 1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano, chopped, more for for garnish
- Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Pour olive oil into a large sauté pan and when hot, add the ground meat. Cook until no longer pink, stirring often, about 8 minutes (depending on your meat of choice). Remove meat from pan to a cutting board and chop smaller if necessary.
- Add the chopped pepper and onion to the meat drippings, cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking another 5 minutes.
- Return the ground meat to the pan with the vegetables and pour in the jarred marinara sauce. Over medium heat, cook the sauce mixture until hot while the pasta finishes cooking.
- Drain the pasta when done. Stir the fresh herbs into the sauce and plate each serving in large bowls, topping each with grated cheese and more fresh herbs.