Weeknight Bolognese

If you don’t have kids, then go to Europe. You get married and you say to your husband or wife, let’s make sure to take at least one trip to Europe before we have kids. And then you get pregnant. And then maybe you go to Europe in twenty or so years – at least that’s our new plan.

I went to Italy after graduating college and one of my clearest memories is eating pasta bolognese in Bologna. Guess what? There were no tomatoes in my pasta. It was literally meat, pasta, and grease. It was HEAVENLY, but afterwards I felt like I had eaten a rain boot.  Our American version has tomatoes – bolognese basically means “meat sauce” for us. Sometimes people get too caught up in authenticity; forget that, does it taste good? No tomatoes? Good. Tomatoes? Gooood (picture Joey on Friends talking about Rachel’s messed up Thanksgiving Trifle).

Maybe your grandmom used to make a gigantic pot of gravy on Sundays that started with a huge hunk of meat and simmered on the stove all day. Here is an opportunity for you to grasp a bit of nostalgia – and it will only take you about  30 minutes! To make this “lighter”, use lean ground turkey breast, 2% milk, and go easy on the cheese. To take it richer, use half and half or cream in place of the milk, use 80/20 beef, and enjoy a heavy hand with the parm.

Weeknight Bolognese

Serves 4-6

1 lb lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes

1 c. red wine

1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti or linguine

2-3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1/3-1/2 c. whole milk

Fresh Parmesan Cheese for topping

1. In a large pot, heat water for pasta (lid on, high heat). Add 1-2 tsp. salt to water.

2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add meat and saute until browned. If meat is very lean, start with 1 tbsp. olive oil. If NOT so lean, make sure to drain the extra fat before continuing. 


3. Add oregano, hot pepper, wine, tomatoes, paste, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and let simmer for 10 minutes (heat on high until bubbling, then reduce heat to medium low and let gently bubble).

4. Add parsley and milk and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

5. At this point, add your pasta to the boiling water. Boil for about 9 minutes or until still al dente. The only way to know where your pasta is at is to taste it. Remove a noodle, take a bite. There should be a little white dot in the center, and it should feel slightly too firm for your liking. 

6. Drain pasta and add to skillet. If your skillet is too small to handle this, return your pasta to the pot after it is drained and pour your sauce over top, keeping the heat on medium high.

7. Simmer pasta and sauce together for several minutes or until pasta has finished cooking (again, taste it to tell). Add salt to taste.

8. Plate pasta and sprinkle parmesan on top.

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