Quick Roasted Tomato Meat Sauce

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I think The Kid’s favorite food is pasta. It doesn’t really matter what shape the noodle takes or whether there is sauce or not, as long as it is pasta she’s happy. The other day I was walking the dog and doing my usual chores before dinner. I walked into the kitchen to find the subtle hint of a box of spaghetti waiting for me on the counter.

Hmmmm, what could that mean? I took the hint and threw together a pasta sauce while the noodles were boiling. The Kid had hers with traditional spaghetti noodles and I had mine with spaghetti squash. If you haven’t tried the squash substitution yet, I recommend it. The squash is so easy to prepare and you get tons of squash to use with different toppings.

The dish in the front of the pic is the one with spaghetti squash and the one in the back has the real noodles. The sauce came together really quickly for a weeknight meal and has much more flavor than opening a jar of pasta sauce. I cannot confirm or deny, but The Kid may have picked up her plate to lick the leftover sauce off after finishing her noodles. Shhhhh, I’m taking it as a compliment.

Roasted Tomato Meat SauceRoasted Tomato Meat Sauce

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 anchovy filets, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup merlot or other dry red wine
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil

Wash the grape tomatoes and slice each in half. Place the tomato halves in a microwave safe dish or bowl, and microwave for 1 – 2 minutes until softened and juicy. Check them after the first minute. You want softened tomatoes and not tomato mush.

Heat a pan over medium heat and add the ground beef, minced garlic, and chopped anchovies. Saute, stirring often to break up the beef chunks. Cook until thoroughly done which will take about 8 minutes. You don’t want any pink left in the beef chunks.

Add the wine and crushed red pepper and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits and add extra flavor. Cook for another minute or two and remove from heat. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and toss with the tomatoes. Use the sauce to top pasta or spaghetti squash. Garnish with sliced fresh basil.

Makes 4 servings at approximately 193 calories each – 24g protein, 4g carbs, and 8g fat.


  • You can substitute cherry tomatoes or different colored tomatoes for the grape variety in this recipe. A mix of yellow and red mini tomatoes would add great color.
  • I used 93/7 ground beef in this recipe to keep the fat content lower. You could also do ground turkey, chicken or pork to change up the flavors.
  • Before you freak out about using anchovies in this recipe, they really don’t add a fishy flavor at all. Kinda like caesar dressing has anchovies in it but it isn’t fishy. They simply add a nice punch of saltiness to the sauce.
  • Most anchovies come packed in olive oil. If you are really trying to watch your fat intake, you can drain the anchovies and then rinse them in hot water. This will remove almost all of the fat from them. If you use them as is, they really don’t add much fat with only 3 filets. You can also use this technique with ground beef. I do it all the time.

The crushed red pepper adds just a bit of spiciness to the sauce but doesn’t make you want to grab a glass of water. You can always use more or less to your taste or leave it out entirely. I drained the oil off and froze the leftover anchovies for another recipe later in the week. I always try to find ways to use up the remaining ingredients so that nothing goes to waste.


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