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Don't you just love those old faithful standby meals? You know, those meals that are so easy and that you've made so many times you could practically make them in your sleep? I've shared a few of mine with you already, like these Oven Chicken Fajitas and this Easy Roasted Chicken Dinner, but this Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce is even better!!
The only thing about easy meals is that healthy food often takes lots of preparation and cooking time, so easy does not always mean healthy. Unless your slow cooker does it all for you, that is! This is one of my favourite meals to make because it's one of those set-it-and-forget-it dinners that taste like you spent all day slaving over a hot stove. And it's packed full of healthy vegetables, which is more than you can say for most easy, kid-friendly meals! I have so many hilarious memories of my kids stuffing their faces with this sauce over whole grain spaghetti. If you have little ones, I'm sure you can identify with those strip-them-down-to-their-diaper-and-plunk-them-in-the-bath-afterwards meals...this is definitely one of those!
Another thing that's great about this sauce is that you can customize it based on whatever you happen to have on hand. If you don't have fresh carrots, add some sliced mushrooms instead for a more earthy taste. My kids will eat just about any vegetable if I hide it in a pasta sauce like this one, but feel free to customize this recipe to your family's tastes. It's bound to become a family favourite at your house too!
Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce (serves 9-10)
2 796ml cans of crushed tomatoes (I use low sodium)
1 1/2 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 tsp dried parsley
3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp oregano
a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup red wine
a generous pinch each of sea salt and black pepper
fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
There's a bit of foodie controversy over whether or not to add raw meat to your slow cooker...and not necessarily because of food safety. Some home cooks swear by browning the meat in a frying pan first and then adding it to the slow cooker, which is what I always do when using cuts of meat like chicken breasts, beef roasts or pork tenderloin. But when using ground meats in a sauce like this, I've found that the payoff of browning the meat first just isn't that great, especially since it means more time and another dish to wash. Since the sauce is cooking low and slow all day the flavours really have a chance to develop nicely, so that caramelization that happens from browning the meat first just isn't necessary. But if you want to do it, by all means go ahead!
When I make this dish because I need an absolutely no-fuss dinner, I just add all the ingredients to the pot of the slow cooker and turn the slow cooker on.
Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat and to stir the sauce until it's mixed thoroughly.
Cover the pot of your slow cooker with the lid and cook the sauce on high for 3 hours or on low for 6-7 hours, stirring well every hour or so.
After it's done you'll be left with a deliciously fresh and meaty sauce!
And that's it! It's so easy!
This sauce is best served over some fresh, hot pasta and topped with a little bit of Parmesan cheese! It makes the perfect easy dinner and I know your family will love it as much as ours does!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Let me know in the comments below, what's your favourite stand-by easy dinner recipe?
Love this recipe? Try my Chicken Milanese with Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach or this Italian Sausage and Brown Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash.