Easy Meat Sauce

Easy Tomato Meat Sauce for Pasta – Made with Beef Jerky?!

This easy meat sauce is so simple, you don’t even need to cook the meat… I’ll show you how to make tomato meat sauce with beef jerky – say what?! Serve over your favorite pasta (or any dish you like) for a quick, clean, flavorful weeknight dinner.

Whether you’re short on ingredients or short on time, this easy meat sauce is a must-have in your recipe repertoire. Made with just 5 main ingredients, plus a few simple seasonings and cooking fat, it’s the perfect sauce to whip up with whatever you’ve got in the pantry and fridge. (Or during quarantine…) Designed to be simple, and easily adjustable based on what you have on-hand.

Best of all, you can make this tomato meat sauce without any fresh or frozen meat! Instead, thanks to the inspiration of Alton Brown’s easy meat sauce with beef jerky, I decided to make this sauce with EPIC® Wagyu Beef Steak Strips! I’ve pretty much always got some EPIC® Meat Bars or Snack Strips in my pantry for snacking, but I’ve found tons of ways to make use of them in recipes, too. (#quarantinecreativity)

Not only are the meat strips tasty, but they’re also clean, gluten free, and I love that I can store them in my pantry. The wagyu beef plumps up while cooking in this creamy tomato meat sauce, adding a smoky, savory flavor that’s irresistible. Paired with the sweet, tangy tomatoes, it makes this sauce un-MEAT-able!

Easy Tomato Meat Sauce

Easy Meat Sauce Ingredients

3 EPIC® Wagyu Beef Steak Strips, finely chopped
¾ cup boiling water
1 Tbsp ghee
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
¼ tsp salt
3 cloves garlic (optional)
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes*)
1 tsp dried parsley
¼ cup heavy cream or milk of choice

How to Make Tomato Meat Sauce with Beef Jerky

As mentioned, you can make this easy meat sauce with only 5 main ingredients, and you can adjust the specifics based on whatever you’ve got in your pantry or fridge at the time. And, since we’re using beef jerky / meat strips and you don’t have to actually cook any meat, this recipe can be super quick!

Now, for any sauce, the longer you’re willing to cook it and let it simmer, the more flavorful it will be. Personally, I made this recipe using canned diced tomatoes, and let it simmer for almost an hour—mashing it up to release the flavor as it cooked.

*But, for those looking to cook this tomato meat sauce as quickly as possible, you can get it done in just 10-20 minutes instead! If you decide to go this route, I recommend using crushed canned tomatoes (instead of diced) for a smoother texture in less time.

Soften Beef Jerky

First and foremost, we have to prepare our EPIC® Wagyu Beef Steak Strips for the sauce. Honestly, this is my FAVORITE product of theirs currently—they’re so tender and flavorful! But, if you like a different flavor that EPIC® offers, feel free to use it in this recipe instead.

The prep is as easy as finely chopping your desired meat strips into small pieces, then adding them into ¾ cup of boiling water. Then, cover with a plate and set aside while you start get your easy meat sauce base cooking. This seems like a trivial step, but it will soften up the meat so it’s even tastier in our sauce!

Finely chop beef jerky and soften in boiling hot
Chop beef jerky and add to 3/4 cup boiling water to soften.
Saute veggies for 4-5 minutes
Saute veggies in ghee for 4-5 minutes.

Saute Veggies & Combine Ingredients

For the base of this tomato meat sauce recipe, we need to start by sauteing the veggies. I heat ghee (or any cooking fat you want) in a deep pot over medium heat. Once warm, add in onion and bell pepper, season to taste with salt, and cook for about 5 minutes. If you’d rather use different veggies, or add more veggies than this, go for it!

Once the veggies soften, add in some fresh garlic if you like and cook for another 1-2 minutes. And finally, add in everything else: those chopped meat strips and the water they’ve been soaking in, canned tomatoes, dried parsley, and heavy cream or milk of choice. Stir well so everything is integrated, then turn up the heat.

Boil & Simmer – The Longer The Better!

With all of your tomato meat sauce ingredients in the pot, bring everything to a boil, uncovered. Then, turn the heat down and let it simmer—either for 45-60 minutes for the longer, more flavorful version, or 10-20 minutes for the quick-and-convenient version. Stir regularly and remove from the heat when thickened to your liking.

Again, the length of the cook time is up to you. Longer simmering results in more flavor and a thicker sauce. You can use diced tomatoes, mashing them to release their flavor as you go. Or, keep your easy meat sauce extra-quick by using crushed tomatoes and a shorter simmer!

Add all easy meat sauce ingredients into pot
Add all easy meat sauce ingredients into pot, bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer.
Simmer tomato meat sauce for 45-60 minutes, mashing as you go.
Simmer 45-60 minutes, mashing as you go, until smooth and thickened as desired.

How to Serve Easy Meat Sauce for Pasta

After simmering, all that’s left to do is serve over your favorite dish and enjoy! For me, a tomato meat sauce like this is begging for PASTA of some kind, so that’s where I always turn. I’m a big fan of chickpea and red lentil pastas for maximum simplicity, but my all-time favorite easy weeknight pasta is some frozen cauliflower gnocchi!

How to Cook Cauliflower Gnocchi

I find my frozen cauliflower gnocchi at Trader Joe’s, and you can check out the video below to see how I cook it. Here’s the simplified version:

  • Thaw your gnocchi FIRST by steaming in the microwave. Add to a bowl with 1 Tbsp water, cover, and microwave 1-2 minutes.
  • Cool slightly and pat dry to remove excess moisture. (This will help with browning.)
  • Heat ghee in a pan and add gnocchi, cooking over medium to medium-high heat until browned on all sides. This usually takes 7-8 minutes in a hot pan, or up to 15 minutes.
  • Add your easy meat sauce INTO the pan, toss to coat, and enjoy!
How to cook cauliflower gnocchi
Simple Tomato Meat Sauce

Quick & Easy Weeknight Dinners – 5 Main Ingredients

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Easy Meat Sauce with Beef Jerky

Easy Meat Sauce Recipe

How to make tomato meat sauce for pasta with beef jerky, canned tomatoes & heavy cream.

  • Author: Alyssia Sheikh
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
Scale

Ingredients

Tomato Meat Sauce

3 EPIC® Wagyu Beef Steak Strips, finely chopped
¾ cup boiling water
1 Tbsp ghee
½ cup onion, diced
½ cup red bell pepper, diced
¼ tsp salt
3 cloves garlic (optional)
1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes (or crushed tomatoes*)
1 tsp dried parsley
¼ cup heavy cream or milk of choice

Pasta:

any cooked pasta you like!
(I cooked 1 bag frozen cauliflower gnocchi to serve with my sauce.)

Instructions

  • Cut EPIC® Wagyu Beef Steak Strips into small pieces and add to ¾ cup boiling water. Cover and set aside.
  • Add ghee to deep pot over medium heat. Saute onion and bell pepper, seasoning to taste with salt. Cook 4-5 minutes.
  • Add garlic if desired and cook another 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour in chopped beef strips and water, followed by canned tomatoes, dried parsley and cream or milk of choice. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 45-60 minutes*, stirring regularly until sauce thickens. (The longer you let it cook, the more flavorful it will be! Feel free to give it a mash with your spoon as it softens to help it integrate.)
  • Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!

Yields ~3 cups sauce.

Notes

*For those who prefer a quick-and-convenient sauce instead of slow-simmered, use crushed tomatoes for a faster cook time of ~20 minutes.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: ½ cup sauce
  • Calories: 152
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fat: 11g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 4g