Monday, March 3, 2014

Slow Cooker Olive Garden Meat Sauce

Wow, I make a lot of Olive Garden copy-cat recipes. I guess it's cause we just love Olive Garden! I was so happy when I found this recipe on Pinterest (I modified it slightly) because it tastes so much like the meat sauce you get at Olive Garden. I get spaghetti and meat sauce all the time there (it's either that or ravioli di portobello - yum!). This recipe is also super easy because the slow cooker does all the slow simmering work to make it amazing. I served it with Caesar salad and homemade Italian bread and it was such a yummy, family pleasing meal. Oh, and another great part of this recipe is that it made enough to freeze half for another dinner.

Slow Cooker Olive Garden Meat Sauce

1 lb ground beef
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
dash red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped (or 1 cup frozen chopped onions)
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I like to use Hunts brand)
28 oz can tomato sauce (I like to use Hunts brand)
6 oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a large skillet brown ground beef and Italian sausage, breaking up with a spatula as it cooks. Add a dash or two of red pepper flakes to taste. Add onions and cook until onions are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour this meat mixture into your slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients: crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano, salt, thyme, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Stir well to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Serve over spaghetti or other pasta with grated Parmesan on individual servings.

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