Thay’s Secret Spaghetti Sauce

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As far as spaghetti goes, I like it fine. But I don’t have that much more to say about it . . . it’s just . . . yeah. Fine.

Until I was introduced to this spaghetti sauce. My friend Thay brought it over during our first few weeks home with Benjamin, when our lovely church friends were bringing meals.

“It’s spaghetti,” she said, handing me the containers of pasta and sauce.

I felt just fine about having spaghetti.

And then I ate some. And suddenly I felt GREAT about eating spaghetti.

And joy of joys: there were lots of leftovers–she’d sent a nice big batch of sauce.

“This are mine,” I informed my husband, fitting the lid back on the container and eyeing the remaining sauce protectively. “I claim these leftovers.”

“Uh . . . okay,” he agreed. I think my sudden passion regarding spaghetti sauce probably came as a surprise. Heck, it came as a surprise to me too. More like a surprise attack.

He relinquished any right to those leftovers immediately.

I would have too, if I’d seen the burning glint in my own eye. It was probably the fiercest, possessivest (yeah, I know that’s not a word) I’ve felt about anything since popcorn.

The next time I saw Thay, she told me how to make it. And her secret ingredient: those little containers of chili sauce you get when you order Thai delivery. But in the absence of those, I luckily discovered that a little sweet chili sauce and a little sriracha produce the same magical effect: a little mysterious je-ne-sais-quoi–a bit of a bite (but subtle), a little tang, a little something delightfully sweet but vinegary.

And the stuff in the sauce! The turkey and peppers an onion make it thick and–well, interesting.

I just made my second batch of the stuff, and I eat it all week long for my lunches, but over rice, with some spinach mixed in, and with two fried eggs on top. Like dees:

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It’s the perfect lunch–a kind of extra-fancy and delicious version of Arroz a la Cubana.

Also, you may have noticed that topping everything with eggs is a kind of obsession with me. I keep hearing about this national egg shortage, and hoping its effects don’t trickle down too far–I need my eggs. I really need ‘em. To make my fancy spaghetti sauce lunch–and this salad. With no eggs, they would be naked, sad and ashamed.

But moving on to the recipe!

Ingredients

(Serves 8 +)

¼ cup olive oil
3 lbs ground turkey
4 large white onions
2 red bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
10 cloves garlic
2-28 oz cans (plain) tomato sauce
Generous sprinkling dried basil and thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp sugar (or more to taste)
Secret ingredients:      2 tsp sriracha (or more to taste)
2 tsp Thai sweet chili sauce (or more to taste)

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1. Dice the onions and bell peppers, and mince the garlic.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. When hot, add the diced onions. Cook on medium heat until onions are soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. Add the garlic and some salt and pepper; cook for another few minutes.

3. Add the ground turkey to the pot with the onions and cook over medium high heat for 5-8 minutes, crumbling the turkey with a spatula as the meat cooks.

4. Add the bell peppers and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are soft.

5. Add the tomato sauce, dried herbs, more salt and pepper, the sugar, and the secret ingredients. Stir, cover and simmer on lowish heat for at least an hour, stirring every now and then. If you’re able to let it cook away all afternoon, even better.

6. Taste and adjust seasoning; serve over pasta. Or stir in some spinach and spoon it over some rice with eggs. It’s a sauce worthy of being served in many ways, and as often as possible.

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Heaven on a Plate Arugula Salad

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My sister Erica just moved to Chicago in early June–the day before Ben was born, to be exact! Since I’m on maternity leave and my days are free and clear, we’ve been hanging out all the time. I zip up to her place–a mere 12 minute drive–and we spend the day corralling our kiddos, talking, and if we feel brave, going out for lunch or heading to a park.

If we don’t feel brave, we stay inside, where the kids all tend to pile on each other.

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Hanging out with Erica is fun, magical, and encouraging. Sometimes we do little projects (like writing this blog post, which I’m doing from Erica’s couch while the kiddos nap). Sometimes we drink iced coffee. Sometimes we do squats.

And eating. Did I mention we do a lot of eating?

We love eating.

In particular, this salad. Erica made it for me one of the first times we all came over. The moment I took the first bite was a revelation. I loved it so much that I immediately put it on the menu at our house for the following week. And the following week. And the week after that (not kidding here). And the ingredients for it are now a staple–they must be in stock constantly. Because it just makes me happy.

Crisp greens with a sprinkling of lemon juice and olive oil. Greasy, perfectly fried tiny potato chunks. Two runny eggs–silky whites and yolks like a thick version of melted butter–all on a plate together. Just 5 ingredients coming together in a salad that makes my heart sing.

Alternate title for this salad: Fried but not guilty.

Because any guilt derived from the divinely fried tiny, greasy potatoes, simply disappears in the context of the bed of salad greens. It’s called psychology.

Make this for lunch. Or for dinner. Or for all the meals.

I highly recommend that you chop up extra potatoes while you’re at it, and save them (raw) in a container in the fridge.

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That way, when you’re in the mood for this salad the next day (which you will be), you can just dump the pre-diced potatoes into a hot, oily pan, and it comes together that much faster.

Ingredients

(Serves 1)

2 eggs
1 TBS Butter
Plate full of arugula (or other salad greens)
Olive oil
Sprinkling of lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
2 medium red potatoes
Salt

1. Cut up the red potatoes in a small dice. About this size.

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2. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick pan. When hot, add the diced potatoes in a single layer and fry on medium heat, salting as you go, until browned and crisp. Stir occasionally. This takes about 12-15 minutes.

3. Toss the arugula with a sprinkling of olive oil, lemon juice and salt, to taste. If you’re feeling virtuous, it’s great without the oil too.

4. In a small, non stick pan, melt the butter. When bubbly, crack in the eggs and turn the heat to medium-low. The whites should immediately create an opaque bottom layer. Using a spatula, gently move the runny whites that are floating on top, making little holes in the bottom layer so that the runny parts come into contact with the hot surface of the pan and cook quickly. After about a minute, salt the eggs and gently turn them over. Give them another minute in the pan, and they’re done!

5. Top the arugula with a layer of potatoes, and gently slide the two eggs on top of it all. Consume with great joy. Fresh OJ on the side doesn’t hurt either.

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I hope you all enjoy this salad as much as I do! It’s a dream.

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