This is one of those family recipes that I've spun off because it's never really been written down.  Not because of lethargy, but because it ends up being a little different every. single. time.  

So, I kept track of what I threw into it the last time I made it.  Yes, the recipe changes based on the ingredients I happen to have in my fridge.  But for those of us who panic at the thought of straying from a recipe, I wanted to give concrete instructions with actual measurements of ingredients.  Feel free to throw in other spices or veggies as you see fit to meet your taste and vegetable intake goals.

The great thing about this, though, is that no matter how different my mom or I make this recipe, there are always vegetables thrown in that are undetectable once the sauce is made.  Reaping the benefits without flavor sacrifice?  Yes, please!

Meaty Marinara Sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes   Cook time: 1+ hours   Total time: At least 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: About 2 quarts of sauce (yay bulk cooking!)



  1. Cut up larger veggies, like tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper into smaller chunks.
  2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the bay leaves and pulse until a smooth sauce is formed.  Depending on the size of your processor, this may need to be done in two batches, so just split everything into two even piles and blend one, put it into a large pot, blend the other, and then add that to the pot as well. 
  3. Over medium heat, bring the pot of sauce to a boil.  Add bay leaves.  Adjust flavor to taste as you see fit with more seasonings, such as dried herbs, salt, or pepper.  Keep in mind that as the sauce heats, the flavors will marry better and become stronger.
  4. While sauce is warming, brown ground beef in a pan on the stove.  Once it is cooked through (no pink remaining) and sauce has begun to boil, add meat to the sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Allow sauce to sit on the stove over medium-low heat for at least 45 minutes after the beef is added.  Stir regularly and keep flame so that a slow bubble begins in the sauce, but it does not boil violently.  Taste test as the sauce becomes redder and continue to adjust herbs and spices to your liking.
  6. Once the sauce has been given this time to come together, use this sauce as a base for whatever meaty marinara recipe your heart desires!  Stores in the fridge up to a week and freezes in a tightly sealed container up to 6 months.  

1 1/2 lbs grass-fed ground beef

1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 6-oz cans tomato paste

6 roma tomatoes

1/2 sweet onion, peeled

1 8-oz package baby bella mushrooms

1 red bell pepper, cored & seeded

1 cup fresh basil

1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves

1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ground white pepper


1 tsp crushed red pepper (adds a kick!)

A handful or two of leaves such as spinach (you won't even taste them!)