Pasta is probably my most favorite food. I live in dread of becoming diabetic because then my pasta intake would drop to virtually zero. Part of the reason I love pasta so much is the delicious sauce that I make to go with it. I made some the other night, and have been craving pasta practically every day since. So, to share with everyone, here's the recipe I love so very much, and which has taken years to perfect.
~1 lb (or ~ 1/2 kg) ground beef (medium, lean, whatever, just changes the amount of fat to drain)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 29 oz cans tomato sauce (about 3 cups)
1 5 oz can tomato paste
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I like yellow for colour, but green or orange are fine)
1-2 stalks celery, chopped
1/3 cup of your favourite red wine (I like Shiraz, myself)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/2 - 1 tsp crushed chilies (to your taste)
Put ground beef in stock pot with chopped onion, and cook on high until meat has mostly browned and onion has softened. Drain the fat and add the garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, and crushed chilies. If you are using dried herbs, rub them between your hands to better release the flavour as you add them to the pot. As I don't have much experience with fresh herbs, I can't really offer any appropriate equivalents.
Once the meat is fully browned, add one can of tomato sauce, one can of tomato paste, the sugar, and the rest of your vegetables. At this point give the pot a good stir to judge if you need more tomato sauce; it should be thick, but not too chunky. If it is too chunky, add a bit more sauce, and finally the wine. Give it a final stir and turn it on low. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stir, let sit another 30 minutes, and serve over fresh pasta with a glass of the wine you used in the recipe. Enjoy!
P.S. A nice appetizer to go with this is roasted garlic spread. Baking 1 bulb of garlic is usually enough for about 6 people, so divide your bulb appropriately if there are less than 6 people.
Garlic (remove some of the papery layers, but leave mostly unpeeled)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Tear two squares of tinfoil. With the first, place the unpeeled garlic in the center, and curl the sides up to make a small bowl. Add a good glug of olive oil, and a smaller glug of red wine. Roll the garlic in this mixture until it is well covered. Tighten the tinfoil around the garlic, and wrap again in the second square of foil, taking care not to let any of the mixture spill.
Place in oven and roast for 45-60 minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes. Each clove can be carefully removed and easily opened to be spread onto crackers or bread. Warning - this will absolutely give you garlic breath. People can smell you several meters away when you talk, so be sure you are with fellow garlic lovers when enjoying this treat.