Lo and behold, the recipe was a hit. I was a bit nervous when my husband ate his first plate in silence before saying, "If someone asked me to describe how this tastes, I don't think I could explain it." Well, great. But then he got up, helped himself to seconds, and said, "But I like it." With a few more tweaks, it has become one of our standbys.
The recipe is very customizable; you can add the vegetables and seasonings that you like in your desired quantities. I don't think I've made it exactly the same way twice -- I'm forever tweaking my seasonings, adding more water, or whatever. Also, this recipe expands like the loaves and fishes. Regardless of how many people we're feeding, we always seem to have enough for everyone, plus three helpings of leftovers.
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 c. onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. zucchini, thinly sliced*
2 c. mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
14 1/2 oz. crushed tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste (no salt added)
1 c. water
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Additional salt, pepper, onion salt, and garlic salt, to taste
1 lb. thin spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
* For small zucchini, halve lengthwise and then thinly slice. For larger zucchini, slice in three or four strips lengthwise before slicing.
1. Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt, pepper, onion salt, and garlic salt. Remove ground beef from skillet; cover and set aside.
2. Coat skillet with cooking spray and reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, salt, and crushed red pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Return ground beef to skillet. Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and additional seasonings. Mix until combined. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes. Check sauce and add extra seasonings if needed.
4. Serve over hot spaghetti.