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Hearty spaghetti with meat sauce, perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

Weeknight Spaghetti

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  • Author: María
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


“Its spaghetti in there!”


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lb dry spaghetti noodles
  • 1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14oz) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt, divided, to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar, to taste
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasonings
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • aged parmesan, for serving


  1. Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat and allow it to preheat until slightly smoking, about 3-4 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan and use a wooden spoon or spatula to press the meat into the surface of the pan, spreading it out, almost like you would smash a burger. Once the ground beef is in a single layer spreading out across the pan, sprinkle a few heavy pinches of Kosher salt over the surface and walk away. 
  2. Allow the meat to sear undisturbed for 4-5 minutes. After this amount of time it should have a nice char: go ahead and break it up into small pieces while flipping the meat over. Once the majority of the meat has been flipped over you can switch to stirring. Continue stirring and breaking the meat up into small pieces until no more pink remains – another 3-4 minutes. 
  3. Drain the excess grease from the pan, if needed. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and fire-roasted tomatoes, then pour the water into the fire-roasted tomato can.  Slosh it around to grab any liquid from the tomatoes stuck to the sides of the can, then pour that water into the crushed tomatoes can. Shake this can too, to grab any tomato liquid, then pour the water into the pan along with the meat and tomatoes. 
  4. Next, add the bay leaf, balsamic vinegar, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, ground oregano, dried parsley, Italian seasonings, crushed red pepper flakes, cracked black pepper, and one teaspoon of Kosher salt. Stir together until the dried herbs are well distributed among the sauce and give it a taste. Add more salt, about a quarter of a teaspoon at a time, if the sauce tastes bland. If the sauce is bitter or tangy, stir in the light brown sugar. 
  5. Once you’re happy with the flavor, bring the sauce to a simmer, then cover it with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the pasta sauce to simmer while you prepare the spaghetti noodles according to the package instructions. 
  6. When your pasta is drained and cooked, remove the bay leaf from the sauce and taste it again. Adjust again with salt or sugar if needed, then ladle half of the sauce into the pot with the pasta and stir it together. Dassit! 
  7. To serve, portion the spaghetti into individual bowls, then ladle on a decent amount of sauce over the top. Finish with a fresh shaving of aged parmesan over the top. 


  • Read the post above the recipe for advice, substitutions, and more details! 
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
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