Spaghetti is an easy meal for my husband to take to work with him, so I make quite a bit of it. With my current obsession with the crock pot, I decided to see what would happen if I added the uncooked noodles directly to the slow cooker and cooked them with the sauce. I expected to wind up with a gooey, nasty mess but was shocked to find that it turned out great. The noodles were plump and filled with flavor.
I haven’t found a jarred spaghetti sauce that I like, they’re all too sweet or bland, so I played around with tomato sauce and spices until I came up with something that I thought tasted pretty good. Not sweet, tons of tomato flavor and just a tad spicy. If you like the jarred sauce, you can always replace the tomato sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste and spices with an equal amount of your favorite sauce. That should be somewhere around 85 ounces of sauce.
- 2 pounds Italian pork sausage or hamburger or a pound of each
- 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 16 ounces (2-3 cups) sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)
- 1 green bell pepper (optional)
- 3 cans (15 ounce) tomato sauce
- 1 pound spaghetti noodles
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 can (28 ounce) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (12 ounce) tomato paste
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1-2 cups beef broth
- Cook sausage/hamburger, garlic, onions, mushrooms and green bell pepper until browned. Drain.
- Empty 2 cans tomato sauce into slow cooker.
- Break spaghetti noodles in half and place on top of sauce. Cover with last can of tomato sauce.
- Add sausage/hamburger mixture on top of noodles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- On top of cheese, add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs and spices.
- Cook on high for 3 hours. Stir well and add 1-2 cups beef broth depending on how thick or thin you like your sauce. Cook for remaining hour or until ready to eat.
- If you like your sauce thinner, you can always add more beef broth or water.
- This recipe fills a 6 quart slow cooker. If your largest size is 5 quart, consider waiting to add the sausage/hamburger mixture until you are ready to serve.
- If you don't like your spaghetti spicy, make sure to leave out the crushed red pepper flakes.
Update: June 21, 2016
I tried this recipe with rotini instead of spaghetti noodles, but I didn’t like the way it turned out. The rotini was mushy and didn’t hold up well. I think the rotini might have been too “thin” and a thicker noodle type would have worked. I doubt I’ll try it again with rotini or noodles like it.
Update: July 13, 2016
I tried the recipe this time with macaroni noodles and it worked wonderfully. Noodles weren’t mushy this time. I had to add 2 cups of beef broth, 1 wasn’t enough. The noodles soaked up all the liquid making it an even thicker dish. It was more like Spaghetti Macaroni Casserole. I will probably make it this way from now on because macaroni would be easier for the hubby to eat at work than spaghetti noodles.
I’m going to try it with penne next.