Bolognese Sauce

This makes the cold weather a lot more tolerable.

bolognese sauce, italian, pasta, pasta sauce
Serving Size: Makes enough for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta

Bolognese Sauce / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Todd Coleman

I want to start by telling you to double this recipe. Originally, the recipe was in fact twice the amount that you see here, but because not everyone feels the need to hoard pasta sauce like they live in a very specific and slightly disturbing reality show, restraint was exercised, and you see before you a recipe designed to make enough sauce for 6 people, one pound of pasta, the amount that normal people most often are looking for.

(Psst….. double this recipe. Invite over a lot of people, or freeze half).

Best Bolognese Sauce Recipe / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

The definition of true Bolognese sauce, like all Italian pasta sauces, is a matter of opinion. My family’s opinion is that this was great, and my opinion is that this is very easy and quick, and that it’s a great make ahead dish. Traditional Bolognese usually involves a much longer cooking period but this is a weeknight version.

If you’d like to make it with half ground beef and half ground pork, that’s also a classic Bolognese meat sauce combo. The sauce is very thick, truly a ragu, and intended to be that way.

Quick Bolognese Sauce / Evi Abeler / Katie Workman themom100.com

This is the kind of food I think of as snow day food—wonderful to make and scent your house on a snowy day, amazing to come home to after a day of sledding or shoveling or skiing, and when extra kids trail into your house with their wet boots, just make more pasta, maybe add some more tomato puree or sauce to the pot, and watch the sauce magically expand.

If you want to get the kids involved, let them peel the carrots, measure ingredients, stir the sauce with supervision.  When he was 14, my older son Jack made this entire sauce start to finish—yes, I was there to guide—and felt pretty pleased about it.

Easy Bolognese Sauce Recipe / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

You can make the entire thing up to 3 or 4 days ahead of time, or you can make the sauce through Step 2 and keep it in the fridge for the same amount of time, and then heat it up and finish with the milk and the Parmesan.

Leftovers heat up beautifully in a pot over low heat—you may want to add a bit of chicken broth or even a bit of water to loosen up the sauce, which will thicken even further. You can also freeze the sauce after Step 2, and then defrost it, heat it, and add the milk and cheese when you are ready to serve.

Bolognese Sauce / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Todd Coleman and Cheyenne Cohen

Traditional Bolognese usually involves a much longer cooking period but this Bolognese Sauce is a quick and easy weeknight version.

Bolognese Sauce

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Coarse or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 35-ounce can tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Generous pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1 pound dried linguine
  • ½ cup slivered fresh basil leaves for serving (optional)

1. In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the beef and sauté for 6 to 8 minutes, until it is browned, then drain in a colander and set aside.

Traditional Bolognese usually involves a much longer cooking period but this Bolognese Sauce is a quick and easy weeknight version.

2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot, then add the onions, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until you can smell the garlic. Season with salt and pepper, add the red wine, and stir and scrape any bits from the bottom.   Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper flakes if using. Return the browned beef to the pot (see Fork in the Road) and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is nicely thickened.

Traditional Bolognese usually involves a much longer cooking period but this Bolognese Sauce is a quick and easy weeknight version.

3. Add the milk and ½ cup Parmesan and cook for another 10 minutes until the sauce is creamy and thick.

Traditional Bolognese usually involves a much longer cooking period but this Bolognese Sauce is a quick and easy weeknight version.

4. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water over high heat until it is boiling, salt the water generously, return the water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the Bolognese sauce and stir to coat the pasta well with the sauce. Serve hot, sprinkled with fresh basil if desired.

Traditional Bolognese usually involves a much longer cooking period but this Bolognese Sauce is a quick and easy weeknight version.

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Dinner Solved!

Katie Workman is a gifted cook, a best friend in the kitchen, and a brilliant problem solver. Her Mom 100 Cookbook was named one of the Five Best Weeknight Cookbooks of the past 25 years by Cooking Light and earned praise from chefs like Ina Garten (“I love the recipes!”) and Bobby Flay (“Perfect . . . to help moms everywhere get delicious meals on the table.”). Now Katie turns her attention to the biggest problem that every family cook faces: how to make everyone at the table happy without turning into a short-order cook. Expanding on one of the …

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