Spaghetti Bolognese


Sometimes, like election nights, you just want a little comfort food. We have a lot riding on today, and James and I actually have a deal to not watch all of the coverage tonight. I fear we won’t truly know the results until midnight or possibly tomorrow, so rather than stress over something we cannot control, we will take our minds off it.

Spaghetti bolognese is James number one favorite meal.  Enchiladas verdes with chicken may be a close second, but I can say with confidence, spaghetti bolognese wins. So what better food to comfort us on this cold and stressful evening?

Over the summer we had one wedding in Florence and another in Cap d’Antibes a week apart.  We decided to rent a car and drive from Italy to France as they are really close together. One of our stops was to visit one of James cousins and her family in Bologna. The home of bolognese sauce.

His cousin is married to an Italian man from Bologna, so when he offered to make us pasta bolognese for dinner we JUMPED at the chance! Did I mention this Italian man used to be a chef?! Talk about an amazing opportunity! Anyway, he let me in on his technique for making bolognese sauce, so this recipe is an adaptation of the true Bolognese way.


What you need:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 3-4 tbsp double concentrate tomato paste (this is VERY important)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 cup red wine (chianti or cabernet – full bodied)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil sliced thinly
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 16oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

One of the great things about spaghetti  bolognese is that you can make the sauce well in advance, in giant batches, and freeze it for later use.  The flavor locks in and it is great to make in advance!

In a large pot or dutch oven heat some extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.

Season your beef with salt and pepper and brown it in the pan.  Making sure to break apart the beef as it cooks.

Add in your garlic cloves and cook until fragrant.  To the pan, add the double concentrate tomato paste and cook it for a few minutes. This is the base of the sauce and gives it the smooth flavor you are looking for.

Once the double concentrate paste cooks for a few minutes, add in the red wine and cook down for 3-4min.

Add in the mushrooms if you are using them and cook for 5 min.

Then add in the can of crushed tomatoes and half a can of water. The tomato paste will balance the acidity from the can of crushed tomatoes.  Often you hear of people adding sugar to bolognese sauce, the double concentrate tomato paste prevents that from being necessary.

Season your sauce with salt, pepper, and the red pepper flakes and let it simmer for 30min to an hour on low heat.

At the end of your cook time add in your fresh herbs and stir them in cooking a further 5-10min.

Good bolognese sauce is a labor of love, and does take some time, but it is so worth it!

Eat it with your favorite pasta or veggie noodle and feel free to top it with parmesan cheese.

Oh and God Bless America, no matter what happens, this is one awesome country!

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