Elisabeth Hasselbeck's Meat-Based Tomato Sauce for Lasagna

From 'The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide'

GMA Recipes Dinner
Servings:Over 8
Difficulty: Moderate
Cook Time: min

"The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck dropped by "GMA" today with some recipes from her book "The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide."

"This is my mother's basic meat sauce, which I use and which she and my grandmother used, over penne, spaghetti, and other pasta. My mother adapted it and the meatballs to make them gluten-free for me. I serve the meatballs and sausage on the side, with a fresh garden salad. …

The recipe calls for sausage, but a piece of pork, such as a thick boneless pork chop, can be substituted. Pork gives tomato sauce nice dimension. I make the meatballs small so that the sauce penetrates them during simmering, keeping them moist."


  • 1 pound Italian sausage, gluten-free, hot or sweet
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tablespoons light olive oil or canola oil
  • 3 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 or 4 fresh basil leaves
  • meatballs, gluten-free, cooked (recipe follows)
  • Meatballs
  • 1/2 cup hominy grits or coarse cornmeal (or 1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 egg
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Cooking Directions

    Cut the sausage into 2-inch pieces and set aside. Mince the onion in a food processor and set aside.

    Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large pot, and brown the sausage on all sides in the oil. Add the onion and cook it with the sausage until the onion is soft and light brown.

    Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes to the pot. Add about 1/4 can of water to rinse the can and add the water to the pot. Stir, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the other 2 cans of tomatoes, rinsing each can with 1/4 can of water and adding the water to the pot. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, and basil, and stir to mix. Add the meatballs and stir.

    Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally; then lower the heat to a slow simmer. Simmer sauce for 30 minutes or longer if desired. I like to simmer the sauce until I see that oil has risen to the top. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

    Serve over pasta or in lasagna.

    Note: I often use a Crock-Pot to make this sauce. If you use a Crock-Pot, brown the sausage and onion in a large skillet. Add the cooked sausage and onion to the Crock-Pot, using water to scrape up the brown bits with them.

    Add the remaining ingredients according to the above directions, and stir. Cook on high for 4–5 hours, then switch to low for 1–2 hours or until ready to use. Or cook on low for 7–8 hours.


    In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of water to grits or cornmeal (or gluten-free bread crumbs). Mix to moisten the grits or cornmeal (or gluten-free bread crumbs), which should be damp, but not wet. Set aside. If using gluten-free rice crumbs, which are harder than cornmeal, use 1/4 cup of water and allow rice crumbs to soften for several minutes.

    Place ground chuck in a large bowl. Add the egg, garlic, parsley, grated cheese, salt, and pepper, and mix with a wooden spoon. Add the moistened grits or cornmeal (or gluten-free bread crumbs) and mix, first with the spoon, and then with your hands, just until ingredients are combined.

    Shape the meat mixture into meatballs, about the size of golf balls.

    Brown the meatballs in a skillet in light olive oil or canola oil. Cook in batches, and do not overcrowd the skillet. Add more oil if needed. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set aside for use in the tomato sauce, or cover and refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to make the tomato sauce.

    Recipe Summary

    Main Ingredients: gluten-free italian sausage, tomatoes, basil, lasagna

    Course: Dinner, Main Course, Party Platter, Side Dish

    More Info: Wheat/Gluten Free

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