Here’s a slow cooker spaghetti sauce that can be a meal in itself even without the pasta!
This sauce is so chock full of meat, it’s almost a stew!
This one is made with petit diced tomatoes and is also packed full of veggies. The meats here are meatballs–the recipe is given but you can use prepared frozen if you don’t want to bother–and sweet Italian sausage. If you are using frozen meatballs (either prepared or your own that you froze) they needn’t be defrosted before you put them in the crock pot.
I love the flavor Italian sausage imparts to a sauce. It gives a delicate and understated flavor with just the right hint of fennel. The flavor of the meatballs, which include a bit of my favorite Asiago cheese, complete the flavoring
Since I like a sweeter sauce as opposed to a more acidic one, I add sugar. You can leave that out if you prefer a more acidic one. I also included some mushrooms, but if they aren’t your thing, they can be left out and the flavor of the sauce won’t suffer. Ditto the bit of bell pepper.
If you want some “kick” to the sauce, then hot Italian sausage can be substituted, or add a shake or two of red pepper flakes.
It’s important to brown the sausage and the meatballs for this recipe. Not only for the flavor factor that browning meat imparts to any slow cooker dish, but both consist of ground meat, which slow cooker manufacturers and the USDA recommend you don’t cook from a raw state in the appliance.
What I did was pop the meatballs and sausage links in the oven for 30 minutes so they were browned and par-cooked.
This sauce is a little more involved than the usual “dump, set, go” slow cooker recipes, but I believe it’s well worth the added steps since it’s just so delicious!
- 1 can (28 oz) petit diced tomatoes
- 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
- 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1-2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 lb sweet Italian sausage, par-cooked and cut into slices
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 2 slices white bread, soaked in water, squeeze all water out of bread before adding
- 2 tbs finely chopped onion
- 1 egg
- 2 tbs shredded asiago cheese
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- pinch of pepper
- Meatballs: mix all meatball ingredients in a bowl. Shape into desired size ball and brown either on the stovetop or in a 350 degree F oven (time in oven is about 30 minutes)
- Sauce: Add all sauce ingredients to slow cooker
- Add browned meatballs
- Cover and cook on high 3-5 hours, low 6-8 hours
- Serve over pasta of choice