Mimi Avocado’s Secret Sauce: Italian Meat Sauce with Kale, Spinach, Celery and Carrots


slice of lasagna

Last week I made this fabulous lasagna.  I have made lasagna many times, but this time I tried a new thing … I decided to add kale, spinach, celery and carrots to the sauce!  I have never wanted to eat kale.  For one thing, I remember seeing it growing in the fields and asking my father about it.  He told me it’s fodder for cattle and sheep.  So when I started reading about kale salads,  kale smoothies, and  “EatMoreKale.com” I just ignored it.

A couple of weeks ago the Los Angeles Food Bloggers group had an event called “Kale-Palooza”.  Everyone brought a kale recipe.  They even had kale margaritas! I looked at the information about Kale in the Whole Foods website.  Hmm…it has lots of health benefits.  I started thinking about what I might have done with kale if I had gone to Kale-Palooza.   So I decided to try making Italian meat sauce for lasagna but I would fill it with healthy greens…and I would see if anyone could guess my secret ingredients!


Meat Sauce

Here is the finished sauce…would you guess that it’s full of kale, spinach, celery and carrots?!

I started by browning  a pound of  mild Italian sausage and  a pound of ground beef in a skillet with one chopped onion and drained off the fat.  Meanwhile,   I put a cup of water into the Vitamix   and started to add fresh vegetables :  several large curly kale leaves,  a handful of  spinach leaves,  2 stalks of  chopped celery and 2 tablespoons of minced fresh garlic.  The leafy greens processed easier with the chunks of celery in the Vitamix.  Be sure to cut the celery into small chunks so the strings don’t wrap around the blade in the bottom of the mixing container!

kale, spinach, celery in the Vitamix

Kale, spinach, celery…ready for the sauce!

I pureed all of the veggies …it came out VERY green and really did smell like cattle fodder.  Never mind,  it would be healthy and I was on a mission to find a way to eat kale and like it!

I added the puree to the ground meat in a large skillet…along with  tomato puree,  some good  tomato sauce (no preservatives!), 2 grated carrots,   and several “glugs” of red wine (1/3-1/2 cup).    How to choose the wine?  I looked for a California red wine with a screw-top that wasn’t very expensive and had a cute bottle.  red wine for sauce

This “Sugar Pie” red wine was only $5.99 at Trader Joe’s…tasted great by itself (yes, I had to taste it!) and was perfect for the sauce!

greens in the sauce

When the greens were first added to the meat and tomato sauce, they looks very green!

Instead of using dried herbs,  I remembered the wonderful Gourmet Garden herbs in my freezer…so I added some Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs to the sauce.

Gourmet Garden herbs

I love having an herb garden in my freezer!

I let the sauce simmer for about an hour… and the green color went away!  Then I used the sauce to make my lasagna.

I decided to try Anthony’s  “Oven-Ready” lasagna noodles that don’t need to be boiled, so I just followed the instructions on the back of the box.

lasagan recipe

The “oven-ready” noodles worked perfectly and saved me some time!  The sauce was some of the best I have ever made.   In fact, I will probably add vegetables to my Italian meat  sauce all the time now.

lasagna with kale and spinach

My son said he would never know there was kale, spinach, carrots and celery in this lasagna if I didn’t tell him!

I hope you’ll try adding pureed kale and spinach to your sauce.  And wine.   It was absolutely delicious!   This recipe makes enough to have some left over … pass a bowl of sauce to put on top of the baked lasagna!  Or serve the sauce on some delicious rolls for healthy Sloppy Joe’s!

sauce wih kale

So much great nutrition and fiber in this sauce … and you’d never know you were eating kale!

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