photo updated 2/2016 @studioM via deposit photos
I have no idea why I waited so long to make this. It is so terribly easy, and I was able to get 3 very nice-sized plastic containers of sauce, which now live in the freezer. There isn't anything wrong with jarred sauce---I use it quite often, but there isn't much to brag about when you open a jar.
This? This you can brag about. "oh yes. Of course I make my own pasta sauce."
I kept this simple, and did not add a lot of spices, or even onion and garlic. I usually throw in onion and garlic whenever I make something using marinara, anyhow, and prefer the crunch when added freshly.
But like a lot of what I do: There are NO rules. Throw in your favorite spices, and customize how you see fit. There are also no rules about the tomatoes. I used what I happened to have in the pantry at the time. Buy what's on sale, and have at it!
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 (12.5- ounce) Italian flavored diced tomatoes.
16 ounces fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (and a bit more to taste when cooking is done)
1 pound super lean ground turkey meat (NO need to brown on the stove!)
--> SEE NOTES BELOW ABOUT USING FRESH TOMATOES OR COOKING NOODLES IN POT. <--
Add the thawed (or fresh) turkey meat to the crockpot. Dump in all the cans of tomatoes, and break the ground meat up with a large spoon. Stir in the spices and mushrooms.
Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or on high for about 5 hours.
When done cooking, break up the ground meat a bit more and season to taste.
Jarred pasta sauce is awfully salty; I didn't add any salt, but your tongue might desperately want it
(you'll probably need about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, but start slowly. If you are using regular table salt, use half of this amount -- table salt has smaller granules).
I also didn't add ANY sugar. That's because it feels weird to put sugar into pasta sauce, even though if you read the ingredients in the grocery store they all have tons of sugar. SO -- if this isn't sweet enough for your taste buds, go ahead and add a bit at a time to get it to the flavor you're looking for.
Serve right away, or package for freezing.
This is very tasty. I shared a bunch with my grandparents, who enjoyed it also. It has been rather warm, so I let this cook overnight on the counter in front of an open window. I'm sure the neighborhood dogs were quite happy!
The kids and I had a small bowl for breakfast.
I loved that I didn't need to brown the meat, and that turkey meat is so lean that there was very little fat that floated to the top during cooking.
If you decide to use a different type of meat, you can chill the sauce, and scrape off the collected fat.
PS: HEY STEPH, I WANT TO USE FRESH TOMATOES!
Okay. You can. But you really should try to peel them first. The stewed tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes don't have any skin. Skin is weird in pasta sauce, trust me.
The best way to peel a whole bunch of tomatoes is this way:
Bring a really large pot of water to a boil (leave 6 inches or so of room for displacement. TRUST ME.) After you have washed all your tomatoes, use a paring knife to cut an X into the bottom of each one, and then toss them into the already-boiling water.
Let them tumble for 1 minute. Then lift out with a large slotted spoon and drop them into a large bowl or container or ice water. Once they are cool enough to handle, slip the skin off. And I suppose compost it or feed it to chickens or something like that. ;-)
Use 3.5 pounds of tomatoes to keep everything else the same in this recipe.
PS: HEY STEPH, I WANT TO COOK THE NOODLES IN THE SAUCE!
Okay. You can. My suggestion would be to brown the meat beforehand, then break your noodles in half and stir them completely into the sauce. Cover and cook the same way but know that your finished spaghetti is going to be more casserole-ish instead of spaghetti-ish. The consistency will be that of a baked ziti or lasagna --- still DELICIOUS but not wet.
I'd also probably throw some cheese on top because cheese ROCKS. ;-)