Thursday, October 15, 2015

Farm Fresh Bolognese

I don't know about you but when the leaves start turning vibrant colors my mind goes automatically to cozy nights - which for me means cooking something amazing to share with my loved ones. 

This past weekend I was lucky enough to have my older daughter home with us for a couple of nights on her way to Egypt (via NYC and then Turkey.)

Yup. She's in Cairo, Egypt at the moment. Riding camels and visiting pyramids. She never ceases to amaze me. 

I wanted nothing more than to gather us around the table for a family meal on the night prior to her departure. Lucky for me my family loves my cooking and is not picky - they are generally happy to sit down to whatever I have concocted that day. Whew!

This time it was a fresh Bolognese sauce using ingredients from my veggie garden and the farmers' market. And my my new best friend. This recipe makes a lighter and fresher Bolognese than some recipes I have tried in the past - this time I decided to go with  my instinct and go with my gut and it worked! I found this to be my absolute favorite batch of Bolognese to date!

I'm sharing this recipe with you so you, too, can gather your loved ones around and give thanks for that time spent together. And the wonderful meal. What's better than that?

Always start with the freshest possible ingredients to get the best possible results. Remember what you put into it is what you get out of it. Pretty much the same with your body. You give it good food it will perform much better than if you feed it processed food. This is about as good as it gets!

This is another great way to preserve your abundance of fresh produce for winter meals - half this sauce will go into the freezer for a future dinner party. Lucky guests!

I started with celery, carrots, tomatoes, onions and garlic fresh out of the garden and some very lean ground beef from the farmers' market. (Recipe at the end of the post.)

A drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of my dutch oven, and heated on low- medium. 

In go the diced onions, carrots, and celery and season with salt and pepper. Give them a stir every now and again but don't rush it - let them brown. Give it time, it's worth it. 

Add the chopped garlic next into a hole you make in the middle of the veggies and brown that in a pat of butter for just a few minutes until it's golden. 

Throw in the ground beef, chop it all up into the veggies, and again.....give it time, let it brown. Stir it up every now and again, but let it brown. Browned food is good and adds flavor!

While all this is happening, get your tomatoes ready. I used a combo of grape tomatoes and larger tomatoes. Because that's what I had. The grape tomatoes were cut in half, and the larger tomatoes were trimmed of any spots/stem ends and chopped roughly. (Side note - these might be the last of the red tomatoes for the 2015 gardening season. The remaining ones are green and will need to be ripened indoors. Sad....)  If you don't have fresh tomatoes you can use canned whole tomatoes - crush them up a little with your hands when you add them to the sauce. 

When the ground beef is nicely browned, throw in a can of tomato paste and stir it up. Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, and give it another stir. 

Simmer for a few minutes, then throw in about a cup of red wine. I am not terribly fussy about what wine I use in cooking - generally if there's a cup of red wine left at the bottom of the bottle I will put it in a mason jar and keep it for cooking. If you are more particular, the rule of thumb is that you should cook with whatever wine you'll be pairing with the meal. 

Give it all another stir and then simmer it for a few minutes with the lid off to cook off the alcohol. Next throw in about 2 cups of water and 3 bay leaves and a sprinkle of dried thyme leaves. Give it a stir, put the lid on, turn the heat to low, and walk away. 

I went out to the deck to sit by the fire with a glass of wine and shell beans and watch the blue jays come in for the peanuts. Perfect golden fall evening. Happy. 

I gave the sauce another stir a little while later and it was all coming together nicely. 

The finished product, after about 2 hours total cooking time - it has all melded together into the most beautiful sauce. In most restaurants, at this point the chef would generally throw in a pile of grated cheese and some heavy cream. I did not, I don't think it really needs it. But you can if you want to. 

Served over some Pirro Papardelle pasta tossed with a little butter, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. 

I like to grate some fresh parmesan over the top of the completed dish, and throw on some chopped parsley. 

Served with garlic bread and a glass of Barbera wine. 

And my loved ones around the table. 




1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery
1 1/2 cups diced carrot
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3 lbs lean ground beef
1 12 oz can tomato paste
Approx 2 lbs tomatoes
1 Cup of red wine
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 stick butter + 1 tsp butter

1 package pappardelle pasta cooked in salted water per package directions
Parmesan Cheese
Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley

Heat dutch oven or other large, heavy bottomed sauce pan over low-med heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add the onions, celery, and carrot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, stirring as needed. 

Create a "hole" in the center of the vegetables by pushing the cooked vegetables to the outer edges of the pot. Melt a teaspoon of butter and throw in the chopped garlic. Sautee until golden brown. 

Add the ground beef, breaking up into small pieces. Stir into the vegetables and cook, stirring as needed, until completely browned. 

Add a 12oz can of tomato paste to the beef/veggie mixture, stirring until combined. Simmer for 5 minutes. 

Add 1 cup of red wine, stir until combined. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the alcohol is cooked out of the wine. 

Add 2 cups of water, 3 bay leaves, and about a half teaspoon of dried thyme leaves. Stir to combine, lower the heat to the lowest setting and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. When done, season to taste. 

Towards the end of the cooking time, put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Cook according to package directions and drain. Return to the pot, drizzle with olive oil, toss with the half stick of butter, and season with salt and pepper. 

Top the hot pasta with the beef sauce, a generous sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan, and about a teaspoon of fresh parsley, chopped. 

Serve with some crusty bread and a nice glass of red wine. 


Sharing at Cozy Little House


  1. Wow, that looks amazing. You are a master!

    1. Hardly!! I just love good food! And since I've been in the hospitality industry my entire life it's in my blood.

  2. Looks and sound delicious! I sure with I liked to cook...

    1. I wish you lived close by so I could cook for you, Brenda! No tomatoes, though.....

  3. OH this sounds so delicious!! I am blessed to be married to a man who loves to cook (Sicilian grandparents with lots of family recipes handed down.) We make meat sauce all the time but have never made a real bolognese. I just read him your recipe and we are fired up to make it this weekend! Thanks for sharing!!

    1. You are blessed!! I hope you enjoy the bolognese - you and your hubby may enjoy some of the other recipes on the blog as well, especially the veggie lasagna with garlic bechamel. That's one of my favorite recipes to preserve the produce that's coming out of the garden en masse. Freezes perfectly and a huge crowd pleaser for dinner parties! Thanks for stopping by, Lisa - love your blog!


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