When we think about pasta meat sauce, the trinity of onion, celery, and carrot combined with evaporated milk does not come to mind, but this recipe from Ellie Krieger in her book The Food You Crave on page 163 proved us wrong. This recipe not only taught us something about the combination of ingredients, it was a pleasure to make. Everything except the pasta cooked in the same pan, and at the end you even add the sauce to the pasta pot! The leftovers the next night were even better; we attributed that to allowing time for the flavors to blend.
We added a few tablespoons of tomato paste to the recipe for thickening. Alternatively, you could cut back or eliminate the chicken broth. We also used the dried thyme instead of fresh. The flavoring was great.
As Ellie Krieger points out, evaporated milk is milk with 60% of the water removed. It has no added sodium or preservatives. Because of the thickening from evaporation, the evaporated milk has a cream-like texture and can replace cream in many recipes. However, evaporated milk has a high protein content, so it needs to be added at the end of the heating to avoid curdling.
¾ box (12 oz.) whole-wheat fettucine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
8 oz. white mushrooms, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
1 lb. lean or extra lean (90% lean or higher) ground beef
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried
Two 14.5-oz. cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with their juices
½ cup low-sodium broth. 1/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk or regular whole milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook the fettucine according to the package directions.
2. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the water they release has evaporated, another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring a few times. Add the garlic, ground beef, and thyme and cook until the meat is browned, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and broth and cook until the sauce is thickened, about another 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and cook for 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper.
3. When the pasta is done, drain it, put it back in the pasta pot, add the sauce, and stir the sauce and pasta together. Divide between 4 serving bowls, sprinkle with the Parmesan, and serve.