So, I’ve been told that I can’t eat Edible Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough every day.
I know, right? Who are these haters? Now although I’m still not sure that is completely true, I will admit that sometimes a really good hearty dinner sounds good too (maybe followed by cookie dough?). And I guess if I’m going to be binging on cookie dough (and I am) then I better try to balance things with some vegetables. Enter Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Ragu. (And if you don’t have a slow cooker, don’t worry, I’ve got that covered too!)
As meals go, this one checks all of the boxes. Easy to make. Kid friendly. Hearty. Adaptable. And as the days and evenings get busier (anyone else feel like they are on a constant Merry-Go-Round?) this Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Ragu is a good one to come home to.
Now that I’ve sold you (and I bet it was an easy sell if you looked for even half a second at the photos), let me give you a few tips. I personally like using my slow cooker. That means I make my beef and vegetable mixture and throw it in the slow cooker to finish. I don’t need to worry about how tender the vegetables are, because by the end of the day in the slow cooker they will be perfect. If you do not want to use a slow cooker, no worries, this can be made completely in one skillet-just sauté longer-until your vegetables are tender.
My second tip has to do with kids. When my kids were younger they would notice every tiny bit of vegetable and that would make dinner a whining battle of the wills. No worries-I also have this figured out (it’s always advisable to have friends with kids older than your own, they’ve been there. They understand.).
Before my kids would eat vegetables they could recognize, I made a sauce of them. I took the vegetables (onions, zucchini, and carrots), cut them into large pieces, roasted them in my oven on 400ºF for 20-30 minutes or until they were tender. I then threw them into the food processor and pulsed them until they made a sauce with no recognizable veggie bits. This sauce would then get added to the beef mixture. Seems like a lot of work, right? Not really. I would make a large batch of the roasted veggies and then freeze them in glass jars, ready to heat and throw into sauces like this one. Problem solved. Veggies for everyone.
This frozen-vegetables-for-sauce is also a great use of CSA vegetables you aren’t sure what to do with-but more on that when summer rolls around, and it’s coming can’t you feel it? (My optimism knowns no bounds, it’s a balmy 9 degrees in Minneapolis today)
PS-My kids are now great vegetable eaters, even the recognizable ones. Yours will be too. Be patient and just keep offering vegetables at every meal.
Take a minute and pin the Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Ragu below. You’re going to be happy you did.
So now that I’ve given you multiple ways to make this recipe, here is how I make my Slow Cooker Beef and Vegetable Ragu. Chunky, just the way I like it!
- 1 ½ pound ground beef
- 4 carrots, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 zucchini, seeded and diced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup red wine
- 28 ounce can tomato sauce
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- basil, chopped, for garnish
- parmesan, shaved, for garnish
- 16 ounces spaghetti noodles
- In a large skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat, until cooked through.
- Drain ground beef, place cooked beef in a bowl covered with foil.
- Return empty skillet to medium-high heat, add onion, carrot, zucchini and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and then saute an additional 1 minute, stirring to ensure the garlic does not burn.
- Add ground beef back to skillet.
- Pour in red wine, simmer for 3-5 minutes, allowing the vegetables and beef to soak up the wine and allowing the alcohol to cook off.
- At this point if you are using a slow cooker, transfer mixture to a slow cooker. (If not using a slow cooker, add the rest of your ingredients-tomato sauce through oregano- into your skillet and simmer on the stove until vegetables are tender).
- Next, add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and oregano to the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours until vegetables are tender.
- When you are almost ready to eat, cook spaghetti noodles according to package.
- Drain noodles and then place into bowls.
- Add beef and vegetable ragu to noodles.
- Garnish with fresh basil and shaved parmesan.