Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Weeknight Bolognese

I have some food aversions, or "don't"s, which actually make me a bit of a picky eater. I have a hard time with meat on the bone, hot dogs or sausages ("tubed" meats), and I don't eat duck (too greasy) or veal. It's kind of a big list, I know, but I'm difficult like that.

Bolognese is something that I traditionally do not order because I have found veal is usually listed as one of the meats used. So when I received Ina's new cookbook, How Easy Is That?, and happened upon the weeknight bolognese recipe, imagine my delight when I saw she called for good ol' lean ground sirloin. (I know I can always omit or substitute sirloin for any variety of meat called for, but somehow it was just extra special that this recipe used my preferred type of red meat.) :) Truth be told, the "weeknight" also lured me in.

As an added bonus, a lot of the ingredients are pantry items.

To make the bolognese (full recipe below): 1. Brown meat in a skillet, then add garlic oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 min. 2. Pour in a cup of wine and get all the bits off the bottom of the pan. 3. & 4. Add in 1 can of crushed tomatoes, some tomato paste, salt and pepper. 5. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 min.

Because no Ina recipe is complete without cream and/or butter, add in 1/4 c. heavy cream.

Also add basil, nutmeg and a little extra wine to the sauce and simmer it for another 8-10 minutes.

Add the sauce and some grated Parmesan to the cooked and drained pasta, preferably not in the same pot you cooked it in. Why? Because all the delicious Parmesan cheese I tossed in stuck to the nice, warm bottom of the pan. Ina suggests mixing it together in a large serving dish, and I should have listened.

Serve with a salad and some yummy bread and you have a molto buona meal!
With the 1¼ c. of vino, it definitely has a stronger wine flavor. I enjoyed it, but it was not my girls' favorite and may have been a bit much for my sister. You can definitely adjust it to taste. The depth of flavor drawn out in a dish that took less than an hour to make was really impressive and quite tasty.

Weeknight Bolognese
Serves 6
2 TB good olive oil, plus extra to cook pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 TB dried oregano
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 ¼ cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 TB tomato paste
Kosher salt & black pepper
¾ pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells (
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Heat 2 TB of olive oil in a large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat until the meat is no longer pink and has started to brown. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 TB salt, and 1 ½ tsp pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
Finish the sauce while the pasta cooks. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Source: Ina Garten's How Easy Is That?


  1. This was quite tasty. I really enjoyed how much the wine flavor came through.

  2. Everyone I have made this for has just LOVED it. I use 1 1/2lb. ground sirloin and about 3/4 lb. of hot Jimmy Dean sausage & it is meaty & oh so good.