I've decided I'm not going to give you a recipe for spaghetti and meat sauce. Aren't you already overwhelmed with a hundredity-billion different pasta sauce recipes already? I kinda think so. And besides, anyone who's ever cooked anything already has a pasta sauce recipe tucked away in their brain. You don't need someone on the internet giving you another one (we both know you'd adjust it for what you have on hand anyway).
This is just a little suggestion for the pasta portion of spaghetti and meat sauce. I just tried it and it kinda worked pretty fantastically and I was so surprised it worked, that I had to share it with you.
Have you ever considered cooking the pasta directly in the sauce?
Probably not and neither had I, but then I read it (on the internet, of course. It's where all my crazy ideas come from) and I thought that maybe it was possible.
After our pork and noodle dinner for Chinese new year, in which we seemed to both be scrambling to get the most noodles, I thought it was due time I made spaghetti. We don't have it very often so it usually really pains me to run all of that water for one tiny pot of pasta. Especially since I carefully measure the spaghetti portion to ensure we don't overeat and with that, it just seems like a whole lot of wasted water (and time waiting for it to boil) for a smaller portion of spaghetti in a huge pot.
I started making my sauce last night and I agonized over whether I should just try cooking the pasta in it. So what if it didn't cook? I could fish it out of the sauce and start again. It wouldn't be a big deal. I could just dump (almost) a full can of chopped tomatoes and their juices in and keep a couple cups of water handy just in case. And these types of things always stay on my mind until I do them and when's the next time we'd be having spaghetti, anyway?
Once the sauce was at the simmering stage (with all its lovely juices bubbling), I stuck a tiny wad of noodles into the middle of the pan and pushed them into the sauces so they were barely covered. Then I got braver and put another tiny wad, this time snapped in half, to each side (because only so much full-length spaghetti can fit in my frying pan) and pushed them down. Then I got about two cups of water and poured a little of that in to start so the noodles were just covered. Then I waited.
Overall, the entire cooking process took around 10 minutes which is almost exactly the same time it would take for noodles to boil conventionally. The only difference was that I had to keep checking on the noodles to see how done they were getting, to try and stir them up (to keep them from sticking), and to make sure they were still covered with liquid. I only added water when the spaghetti looked less covered with liquid and I ended up using about three cups of water (along with the tomato juices) in order to cook the spaghetti completely.
It worked so well and the pasta tasted... richer? More tomato-y? More one with the sauce, I guess. The sauce itself had thickened up a lot, too, by the addition of the pasta's starches. Overall, I'd call it a success which makes me wonder why we've all come to believe that pasta needs so much water to cook. All of it seems really wasteful now.
If you're adventurous (or eat a lot of pasta), this might be something you'd like to try. I don't think it would work with creamy sauces (mac and cheese... mmmm... probably not), but if you're making a tomato-based sauce already, this might be a nice option.