Dad’s at Work – Spaghetti and Meatballs Night!

I usually prepare meals that are easy to pack and warm up for my husband’s lunch at work the next day. Spaghetti is one of those dishes that is 1.) messy in the office break room scenario and 2.) doesn’t really warm up as tasty as it is served fresh. My children (age 25 and 21) love spaghetti so to insure they get their requirement of pasta and sauce, the times┬ámy husband is home for dinner, I plan spaghetti the evening before as he won’t be needing that extra lunch. Today is that day but I’m out of sauce so am making my usual triple batch so as to have some to freeze for later spaghetti adventure meals.

My spaghetti sauce holds a lot of nutrition secrets that might take away from their favor did the family know in it’s entirely exactly what is simmering in that closed pot on the stove. In case any of you parents are interested in sabotaging your children’s food with needed nutrition, I thought I’d share my secrets.

2 24/ounce cans of your favorite pasta sauce. (I watch for sales so usually get them for a dollar or less each)
4 cups chicken broth although beef broth works well, too.
1 6/ounce can of tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon chili flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed (gives a sausage-taste to the sauce)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried onion (you can use 2 teaspoon onion powder)

Now, the nutrition elements!
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 stalks of celery thickly sliced
15 cloves of fresh garlic, mashed
1 large onion, chopped
2 Bell peppers, your choice of color, seeded and sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced (use care as the oil can burn your hands!)
1 12-16-ounce packet of frozen spinach, defrosted
1 14-16 ounce can of pinto beans, rinsed
4 medium to large tomatoes, quartered

Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy cooking pot, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for one and a half to two hours. At this point all the ingredients should be very tender. At this point, there are two ways to smooth out the sauce. I am blessed to have a handheld immersion blender so I can smooth out the sauce right in the pot. Another way is to strain the liquid portion of the contents into another pot (don’t throw it away! :-)) and put the solids through the blender until smooth. Add everything back together. Check for seasoning. At this point, I like to add a cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to the mixture and cook on low until it is melted into the sauce. Keep the sauce simmering on low while you prepare your spaghetti, bake your meatballs, etc. Serve with lots of grated cheese on the side, garlic bread, and a salad and you shouldn’t hear any complaints.