With a family of five I know it can be hard to find a good weeknight dinner that everyone likes AND that is budget friendly. This “Easy Bolognese” recipe is SUCH a keeper and I can freeze half with no extra effort on my part so we get a second meal out of it a few weeks later. Love. That.
I, for one, am a cream sauce kind of gal. Alfredo. Hollandaise. All of the (fattening) cheesy sauces… that’s me. Yet I love this one. The Husband is Italian. He’s all about the homemade tomato sauce and this one knocks his socks off and he just loves it too. He actually “High-Fived” me in the kitchen earlier after taste testing (again). Lastly, the three boys love it too so when THAT happens (and the angels sing) you KNOW it’s a good one.
I originally saw a version of this a year or so ago on Food Network courtesy of (one of my favorites) Ina Garten and immediately had to make it. I’ve tweaked it a bit and it is now truly a family favorite.
While most Bolognese recipes call for just beef, I like to combine ground beef AND ground sausage. The flavor combination is perfect and, since I am always looking for meat when it’s on sale, I usually have both in the freezer. The meat will probably run you about $9-10 but maybe less if you get a sale. Again, not bad since this feeds our family of five TWICE. We have two smaller guys so I can safely say this will serve 8. The other ingredients are pretty cheap – especially if you grow your own herbs. Heavy cream can be pricey but this only uses 1/2 cup so you will have plenty leftover to use in other recipes. The red wine is HIGHLY recommended for a true Bolognese. If you just don’t want to use it or spend the money on a cheap bottle of red wine, you should really add some extra red sauce into the mix.
Since this is a pretty quick recipe, and knowing that a big pot of water can take a bit of time to boil (especially if you stare at it), I go ahead and put the water on while the meat is browning. I am using oricchiette pasta (known to most of us as “Shells”) because they “grab” the sauce and each bite is just filled with yummy goodness.
You could use Bow-ties or whatever you have on hand, however. The full recipe is below but here are the highlights…
I adore garlic and try and use it whenever I can. If you place a clove of garlic under your knife turned sideways and (carefully) give it a good whack with your fist, it’s easier to remove the skins and then you can mince it.
The fresh basil looks so pretty when you toss it in and smells divine.
The red wine and the heavy cream just make this dish. The cream adds such a wonderful richness to the Bolognese.
Once the pasta is cooked and drained, it is folded into the meat sauce and just looks so delicious. And it is!
And there you have it! Easy Bolognese to feed a small army TWICE.
Here’s a tip: Since the pasta really soaks up the sauce, take the extra crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and combine with a second can of crushed tomatoes into a sauce pot. Throw in more basil and oregano, more minced garlic, and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer for a couple of hours (3-4 is recommended if you have time) stirring every so often and then, once it’s at room temperature, divide and freeze so you have extra homemade red sauce on hand when you serve up the Bolognese leftovers!
What are your favorite easy weeknight recipes? I am always looking for ideas so make sure to leave a comment below!
Recipe: Easy Bolognese
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a splash for the pasta
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 lb. ground sausage
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 cups red wine, divided
- 1 1/2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 small can of tomato paste
- Salt & black pepper
- 1 pound dried pasta (small shells recommended)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving
- Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
- Add the ground beef and sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.
- Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until the meat has started to brown.
- While the meat is browning, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.
- Stir the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes into the meat mixture and cook for another minute.
- Add 1 ½ cups of the wine and stir to scrape up any browned bits.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined.
- Bring the meat sauce to a boil then lower the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Drain the cooked pasta and fold into the meat sauce.
- Add grated Parmesan to the top.
- Serve hot with more Parmesan on the side.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
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