For starters…this sauce is the BOSS! I’m humbly not exaggerating. But before diving into the recipe can I just say it has been FAR too long since I have posted anything here on Whole Fork. My fulltime job got really crazy, busy and stressful. I had to do some travelling, our company was acquired and we went through a huge transition. Keeping my family clothed and fed was challenging! Sometimes it’s impossible to do all the things. But there’s a silver lining!
(That’s me at work!)
I’ve been able to resign from my job. And now I’m working on Whole Fork and taking care of my family full time! Wahoo…party party! So….onto the sauce!
The other night I was cooking dinner and my daughter (in Jr. High) had some friends pop in. They kept commenting about how good dinner smelled and how hungry they were. I picked up their hints and asked if they wanted to join us for dinner. I’ll admit, I was really really nervous! I was making spaghetti squash topped with ragu, and served with a side of asparagus. Veggies, served with more veggies, and a side of veggies. Great, every teenagers dream come true! I know these girls follow me on Instagram and sometimes tease about all the health food my kids have to eat.
Yikes! now they’re going to have to eat squash instead of spaghetti noodles! And my reputation as a cook is on the line!
Before even eating, one of the girls said she hates asparagus and hates when her mom makes it. Sweet, dinner is going to be fun. 😉 I said, “hey, just try one, and if you like it you can have more, no big deal!” I couldn’t even look at their faces as they were taking their first bites. Kids can be the worst critics, and their faces won’t lie no matter how nice they’re trying to be.
Well, I’m happy to say they absolutely LOVED it, and even had seconds. After dinner I overheard one girl on the phone with her mom saying she needed to learn how to cook asparagus MY WAY. Ha ha ha! Mom = 1, Kids = 0 I win again!
Side note: these aren’t the prettiest pictures. I couldn’t do a regular “photo shoot” with all those hungry teens waiting for dinner. The asparagus was completely devoured, so not pictured. But whateves, the real star of this meal was the ragu!
So let’s talk about this ragu sauce. I prefer ragu (instead of other sauces) on top of veggies because it isn’t super watery or runny, which most veggies will have enough of their own water to almost ruin a dish like this. So the meaty thickness helps here. This sauce is one you want to make a huge batch of because the left-overs just get better and better. (Think work lunches!) There are so many ways you can serve this ragu: with spaghetti squash, spiralized zucchini, spiralized yellow squash, asparagus, broccoli, or even roasted potatoes and other root vegetables would be great!
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, pressed
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1.3 lbs ground beef
- fennel seed
- 1 C cooking wine or grape juice
- 1 29oz can of tomato sauce
- 1 C dried tomatoes (optional)
- Using a sharp knife, cut several slits all around the spaghetti squash. Cook in the microwave for 5 minutes. Allow the squash to rest for 2 mintues, then rotate the squash and cook for 5 more minutes. While the squash is cooking start preparing the ragu. Push the sides of the squash to check for doneness. The squash will start to give when fully cooked. Rotate and cook for 3 minute intervals until squash is done. Allow to cool and rest before slicing open. Once you slice it open discard the seeds. Scrape out the strands of squash into a collander and allow the water to drain from the squash.
- In a large skillet or saute pan warm olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add the red bell pepper and cook for a few minutes, until the pepper softens.
- Add the ground beef to the pan. Using a spatula break apart the meat into small pieces. Allow the meat to brown, stirring occasionally. Season meat with salt, pepper, fennel seed, basil and oregano to taste.
- If the ground beef produces a lot of liquid or fat remove it with a spoon.
- Pour in the cooking wine or grape juice. Use grape juice without any added sugar or preservatives. Turn head down and allow liquid to simmer to cook off any alcohol. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release all the flavor bits, and stir into mixture.
- Stir in the tomato sauce and allow mixture to simmer as long as possible. The longer everything simmers the better it will taste! Season with salt, pepper and oregano to taste!
- Optional: Lately I've been obsessed with these dried tomatoes from Costco, so I added about 1 C to the mix at the very end. They taste like sundried tomatoes, but with a soft texture.
- Serve spaghetti squash topped with ragu, and enjoy!