Who doesn’t have fond memories of eating Spaghetti Bolognese as a kid!
This is my healthier take on Giada De Laurentiis’ Simple Bolognese—chock full of veggies, and with tips I learned from making Anne Burrell’s more complex and time-consuming, traditional Bolognese.
I love that you can make this the day before, but be warned that the house will smell so incredible that it will be hard to wait until the next day!
I learned from Chef Anne Burrell to add the pasta to the sauce in the pot, with a little pasta water (if necessary) and “marry the two together.”
If I’m not using all of it, I just add an equal amount of sauce to the amount of pasta I’m using.
Add a little more sauce on top of each plate, drizzle a little high-quality olive oil over the top and sprinkle some parm to finish.
Yumm! Who needs Maria’s!
His and Hers
I don’t usually make two different types of pasta, but I thought this would be a good way to illustrate this gorgeous sauce.
Barilla Plus Spaghetti is my fav because it has extra protein and fiber; even little Aja loves it.
Sam prefers Trader Joe’s Corn Pasta because it’s easier on his stomach.
I like Trader Joe’s Parmesan which has a coarser texture. Please do not use parmesan from a green can!
I found Laura’s Lean Beef (92% lean, 8% fat) at Ralph’s Market, and it was delicious. Check their website for a market near you that carries it.
Make sure your knife cuts are even and the veggies are chopped small.
It might sound as if you’re using a lot of salt, but you have to season every single layer, or the end product will taste bland; I learned this from Anne Burrell. Make sure to use kosher salt – it really makes a difference. I copied Alton Brown’s trick of keeping it in a sugar bowl; makes it easy to pinch. Remember that the parmesan cheese will add some salt at the end, so don’t over-salt.
How to Coarsely Chop Mushrooms
To coarsely chop the mushrooms; slice them with a sharp knife, and then working in batches, run your knife through them in different directions to get them chopped approximately the same size.
- Mario Batali 6-quart Dutch Oven LOVE using my dutch oven for this!
- Epicurious hard spatula
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (very finely chopped)
- 1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 8 oz crimini (baby portabella) or white button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound ground beef chuck (recommended: 92% lean, 8% fat)
- 1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
- 1/2 cup hearty red wine (optional)
- 8 medium size, fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (roll up and slice thinly with a very sharp knife)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- sugar to taste
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano, plus extra for serving
- Coat a 6-quart dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with olive oil (about 1/8 cup) and heat over medium heat. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and season with kosher salt; sauté until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the celery and carrots and more salt, and sauté for 6 - 8 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping up any brown bits that develop on the bottom.
- Add the mushrooms, season with salt; cook for an additional 6 - 8 minutes until softened, stirring frequently. The veggies will be tender and fragrant and the water will all have evaporated.
- Raise heat to high and add the ground beef; season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Sauté, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps. Reduce heat to medium-high and brown the meat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently—until no longer pink, about 10 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, wine, basil, salt and pepper, and simmer (uncovered) over low heat until the sauce thickens and the flavors develop, 40 - 50 minutes. Stir occasionally and check for seasoning; add a little sugar if it tastes acidic; add a little water if the sauce is getting too thick.
- Stir in the cheese to finish and check for final seasoning. (The cheese will add saltiness too, so don't over-salt.)
- Serve over Pasta or Polenta.
- The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. When reheating add a little water and heat slowly, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring often.