Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Slow Cooker Pesto Meat Sauce

It's snowing. It started as rain, but then turned to snow! I'm getting into the holiday spirit by burning my favorite wintertime Yankee Candles, Red Apple Wreath and Sparkling Cinnamon, and cooking up some hearty meals like this Pesto Meat Sauce last Friday and some Easy Tomato Florentine Soup tonight.  What are you doing to get into the holiday spirit?

I worked from home on Friday, and was hungry all day because the scent of the Pesto Meat Sauce was permeating through the apartment. I started the slow cooker at 11AM, and the apartment smelled glorious within an hour! The best part about this sauce was that it came together very quickly.  After removing the casings from the chicken sausage, I used a spoon to crumble it as it cooked.  While the sausage cooked, I mixed the rest of the ingredients together in the bowl of the crockpot.  If you have them, feel free to throw in fresh herbs.  Finish cooking the sausage, stir it together with the rest of the ingredients, cover the crockpot and set to cook on low, then walk away! KK stated the rigatoni while I was at the gym, and dinner was ready by the time I got home.  I should warn you that the ingredients listed below make a lot of sauce.  We split the leftovers into two portions - one to refrigerate and eat later this week, and the other to freeze and thaw for dinner another time.  If you aren't feeding an entire army, or if you don't want so many leftovers, consider halving this recipe.  My HelloVino app recommended a Syrah or Merlot, so we paired the meat sauce with a bottle of Doyenne Signature Syrah from DeLille Cellars.

Slow Cooker Pesto Meat Sauce
Adapted from Plain Chicken
Time: 10 minutes + 8 hours
Serves: 8-10

1 ½ lb chicken sausage, casings removed
⅓ cup pesto
2 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
6 oz. tomato paste
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried rosemary
½ tsp dried sage
1 Tbsp sugar
½ cup Parmesan cheese

1. Cook sausage in large skillet until browned, about 5-8 minutes. Drain fat and transfer to 6-quart slow cooker.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients, cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve with your favorite pasta.

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