Spaghetti Sauce and Buying Half a Cow

This slow-cooker friendly recipe will become a fast family favourite. Makes a big batch of full of flavour meat sauce.

Spaghetti Sauce: This slow-cooker friendly recipe will become a fast family favourite. Makes a big batch of full of flavour meat sauce.

The perils of buying half a steer from an organic farmer, such as Vibrant Farms,  are few but the main ones are an inordinate amount of freezer space required and the need for some really good recipes for ground beef. With a small child who has varying degrees of pickyeateritis, which is hereditary, getting the optimal amount of vegetables into the little one is also a concern of ours. This recipe for good old fashion Spaghetti Sauce is perfect for two out of three issue; using a lot of ground beef and getting several servings of vegetables into a picky kid.

I specifically call this Spaghetti Sauce rather than Spaghetti Bolognese since as a non-Italian girl from Barrie I honestly don’t know what that is. When I grew up, spaghetti sauce was ground beef, canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning mix, onions, mushrooms (my mom used canned mushrooms which I find revolting) and only a hint of garlic since my dad has a deluded idea that garlic gives him heartburn.

This recipe is slow to cook but fast to prepare because I use the food processor for chopping ALL the vegetables. I use the regular blade attachment and I start with the harder vegetables: the carrots, onions and celery. While I brown the meat in a separate large pan, which I do so that I can easily drain the excess fat, I blitz the veggies in the food processor and cook them in some olive oil in my large cast iron enamelled dutch oven. Because of the volume of vegetable they need to be chopped finely in the food processor in batches. I use a mix of a couple cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes and a jar of strained tomatoes (Passata) and I run the whole tomatoes through the processor as well. Not only is this convenient, it assures that nobody can pick out little chunks of vegetables. You would think that I am talking about little Timothy being picky but it is me. When I am served a chunky tomato sauce there are lots of little chunks of tomato left on my plate when I’m done.

When Simon went out to the farm to pick up our beef order, Melissa kindly invited us out to visit the farm so that she could show us around. It was a beautiful day out in the fall when we were finally able to get our schedules to match up. It brought back many great memories of visiting the farm that my dad grew up on. The smell brought on a flood of those memories. The hay, the fields, the animals and, yes, even the manure smelled lovely. I’m not suggesting that I want to start a new line of barnyard scented candles but I do find the smell of a farm very pleasant.

Vibrant Farms is an organic farm that is also partly fueled by Melissa’s passion for what she does. I discovered Vibrant Farms through Bailey’s Local Foods and we decided to pull the trigger and order 1/4 of a steer. It was the most cost effective way and we had a chest freezer.  We upgraded to a big upright freezer shortly before we picked up our second order which was the half steer. We are chugging through our beef stockpile and next week I will have another recipe that uses 3 lbs of ground beef that is a huge hit with everyone. I will also share some more photos of the residents of Vibrant Farms.

Spaghetti Sauce

Slow cooking but quick to prepare spaghetti sauce. Let it simmer all afternoon but speed through the prep work by chopping all the veggies in the food processor. Makes a huge batch to fill your freezer.

30 minPrep Time

3 hr, 30 Cook Time

4 hrTotal Time

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  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 2-3 onions (2 if large)
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 sweet bell peppers (red, yellow or orange)
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2/3 cups red wine
  • 2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes (San Marzano recommended)
  • 1 28 oz jar of strained tomatoes (Passata)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp anchovy paste
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste


  1. In a large frying pan, brown the 3 lbs of ground beef.
  2. While the beef browns, peel the carrots and chop off the ends. Put the carrots to the food processor. Peel the onions and add those to the processor along with the celery. If your food processor is small then work in batches. Pulse the vegetables in the food processor until you get the desired texture. I prefer small bits the size of a peppercorn.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron enamelled dutch oven over a medium heat.* Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the pot.
  4. Cut the bell peppers away from the seeds and put them in the food processor, discarding the stem and seeds. Peel the garlic and add that the food processor as well. Pulse the food processor until you get the desired texture and add to the softening vegetables in the pot.
  5. Stir the vegetables and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. When the beef is browned, drain the excess fat and add the beef to the dutch oven. Add another pinch of salt and pepper and all the dried herbs.
  7. If desired, put the whole tomatoes into the food processor and puree.
  8. Add the wine to the beef and vegetables and stir to deglaze the pot. Let it cook for about a minute and then add the pureed tomatoes and jar of strained tomatoes.
  9. Add the balsamic vinegar and anchovy paste.
  10. Stir and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for several hours. Every half hour or so, stir the sauce and check the seasoning. If needed add some salt and/or pepper.
  11. Serve over your choice of pasta and freeze 2/3 of the sauce in two separate containers or freezer bags for future meals.
Recipe Type: Pasta Sauce


Alternately, you could use a large crockpot. If you do this, then add the browned and drained beef to the crockpot and use that frying pan to sautee the vegetables before adding those to the crockpot as well.



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  1. Heather says

    Hubby dislikes "spaghetti", but I suspect this meat heavy sauce (and non-spaghetti noodles) might win him over... I'll have to try it!
  2. Nana says

    Poppa says Tim asks "Mommy, can we take him home?" And you reply, "Yes dear a bit at a time in small brown paper packages." The is from the farm boy who now lives in the city.


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