A very basic pasta that is coated with a delicious meat sauce.
½ pound penne pasta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped or 1 tsp. garlic paste
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (blend of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and savory) or any Italian spice available
dash of red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. (half kg) ground beef
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped (or a 1/2 teaspoon of dried)
2 ½ cups canned chunky tomato sauce or 4-5 fresh tomatoes blended slightly plus 2 tsp. tomato paste
1 tspn. sugar
1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Heat to boiling a large pot with 4 quarts of water in it. Once the water is boiling, salt it with 1 Tbsp. of salt. Once the water returns to a boil add the pasta to the pot. Leave uncovered, let cook on high heat with a vigorous boil. Put the timer on for 8-10 minutes, or whatever your pasta package says is appropriate for al dente (cooked but still a little firm). Drain.
Once you've started to heat the water, start working on the sauce. Heat olive oil in a very large skillet on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened. Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional minute, until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a large frying pan on high heat. Salt the bottom of the pan generously. Once the pan is hot, break up small chunks of ground beef and add them to the pan, without stirring. (You may need to work in batches; do not crowd the pan.) You want the meat to get well browned. If the pan is too hot and the meat is burning, not browning, take the pan off the heat for a little, and reduce the heat to medium high. Once the meat is browned on one side (a couple of minutes), use a spatula to flip the meat over to brown on the other side.
Use a slotted spoon to lift the meat from the pan and add it to the pan with the seasoned onions. Add tomato sauce. Use the edge of your metal spatula to break up the bigger chunks of meat into smaller pieces. Add basil. Add a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a simmer on low heat, let cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
Once the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, adjust seasonings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a little more sugar if the sauce is too acidic. Add more tomato sauce if the sauce is a little dry. Stir in the cooked penne pasta. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4.