Sneaky bean & beefy pasta

In an effort to not only be healthier but also use up canned goods, I decided to take the old student standby of pasta with meat sauce and kick it up a notch. I had a half jar of Ragu from a few days ago, so I just used a small can of tomato sauce to round it out, and a can of chickpeas. (You could probably use any bean here, but chickpeas were what I had, plus they blend better than pinto or black) I didn’t just want chunks of beans in my sauce, so I blended them. Makes the sauce thicker and adds protein and fiber.

Ingredients:
1/2 jar pasta sauce
1 can tomato sauce
1 can chickpeas
1 box pasta noodles of your choice
1 pound ground beef
Handful spinach

Step 1: Open the can of beans and drain half the liquid. Pour the rest and the tomato sauce into blender and liquefy it. Add extra water if it’s too thick.

Step 2: Fill a large pot half full of water, add salt if you want. Bring to a rolling boil, and cook the pasta 5-8 minutes. While cooking, complete step 3. Drain when al dente (aka soft but not mush).

Step 3: Brown the ground beef in a frying pan. You want to make sure it’s fully cooked. Then add the handful of spinach and cover. Cook for 3 minutes to wilt the spinach. Pour the sauce on top, mix well and cook on medium, covered, until heated through.

The beans makes the sauce thick and gives it a certain depth of flavor without being too obvious. You could also blend in the spinach once cooked so you don’t even know it’s there. Mixed with the plain Ragu pasta sauce and ground beef, it isn’t too noticeable. This is a good way to sneak extra nutrition past whiny kids and picky hubbys. Those adjectives are probably also interchangeable. Just saying.

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