When I was in Italy last summer, one of the best things I ate was a lasagne dish with homemade pasta, bechamel sauce, and bolognese sauce. In Bologna, of course, with a generous pour of red wine in my glass, too. My aunt and I had a very relaxing couple of days to close out our trip, our only priorities being trips to a cafe in the morning, a gelateria midday, and the Italian version of Happy Hour in the evening.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in the case of food and Italy, that is most certainly true. I’ve been imagining a delicious, authentic Bolognese sauce. But then I thought, I don’t have an entire day to babysit a pot. And I never think about these things til I’m already at work and it’s too late to prepare for that night’s dinner.
But guess what! You don’t have to spend a whole day slaving over the stove for Grandma’s sauce. Not even the whole evening. I promise. You can get this sauce going when you get home from work, squeeze in a workout or a few chores, and then sit down to a meal that tastes like it cooked all day.
Weeknight Bolognese Sauce
The beauty of this dish is that you don’t need to spend all day cooking this sauce, the reality is this sauce can only get better. If you can manage to brown the meat and throw this in the crockpot before work, by all means. But if you’re super pressed for time, get the meat going and then chop the veggies to save a few precious minutes. This makes enough sauce for 6 Italian-sized servings (4 main course servings).
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 cups tomato sauce (store-bought or homemade
- a sprinkle each of crushed red pepper and dried oregano
- salt and pepper
- Brown the meats in a large saute pan over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to season. While the meat brows, prep the veggies. Once the meat is browned, stir in the onion. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes, then add in the bell pepper, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook for another 5 minutes or so.
- Once all the veggies are soft, add in the tomato sauce and spices. Check for seasoning; add more salt and pepper if necessary. Cover and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer, if you can spare the time). Serve over whole wheat pasta and with a generous grating of Parmesan or Pecorino.