Faux Meat Sauce

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One of the most beautiful aspects of food is that it can take you back to a different time in your life. Whether it be back to a specific moment or a different era. This recipe takes me back to my childhood. As a kid, my mom would make the best meat sauce. It was one of my favourite things she made. She would make huge batches, and freeze some – it was the gift that kept on giving. 

When I became vegetarian, I went a long time without having an adequate replacement for it. But then enough was enough, and I decided to make my own version of it. I now make my adapted (vege) meat sauce in the same Le Creuset that she used to cook in – continuing the family tradition. This recipe is full of garlic, onion, vegetables and flavour. I like to use Yves Ground Round (ground beef replacement) in mine, but if you can’t find the same one in your supermarket replace it with your favourite ground beef substitute. I hope you enjoy this delicious sauce as much as I do!

Active time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Total: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 large carrots
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Red bell peppers
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tsp salt (divided)
  • 2 28oz cans of whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½ tbsp dried basil
  • ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes 
  • Fresh ground black bell pepper
  • 1 and a half packs Yves Ground Round
  • A bunch of fresh basil
  • Pasta of choice (I find it goes very well with whole grain)
  • Parmesan to taste

Directions:

  1. Begin by dicing the onion and the carrots into pieces that are roughly the same size. Prepare the garlic to be pressed. 
  2. Heat the oil in a large french oven (heavy bottomed pot) on low heat. We want to slowly cook the onion, carrots and garlic to release their flavour without browning them. Once hot, add the onions and the carrots and press the garlic in(minced garlic will also do just fine if you do not have a press). Let them slowly cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. While they are cooking, slice both the mushrooms and bell peppers into fairly thin slices, trying to be as consistent as possible. 
  4. Once the onion has begun to be translucent and is fairly soft, add the red bell peppers and mushrooms and stir. Add the first tsp of salt and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  5. While the veggies are cooking, open your cans of tomatoes and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Then, using your clean hands, begin to break them up gently until the tomatoes are no longer whole, but still have nice chunks. 
  6. After the vegetables have cooked for another ten minutes, they should have begun to soften but not be limp. Add the tomatoes, the dried basil, the dried oregano, the red pepper flakes and the last tsp of salt. Then measure out and add in the balsamic vinegar and the honey and stir to combine. Turn up the heat until it gets up to a simmer, then lower the heat back down, partially cover and let cook for roughly 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally. 
  7. After simmering, add the ground beef substitute, the basil and the dash of cream (add if you want a bit of creaminess in the sauce, I would recommend but it is optional). Stir and taste. Add fresh cracked black pepper and more salt to taste. 

Serve on the pasta of your choice with fresh grated Parmesan and enjoy!

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