Life is a combination of magic and pasta.

frederico fellini

I think if there’s one meal I had to make forever, it would be a bolognese sauce. I love it for its simplicity, yet rich and developed flavor. It’s perfect for a late Sunday afternoon, music playing with a glass of wine in hand, as you wind down the weekend.

I’ve made variations on a bolognese more times than I can count, even a vegetarian one that was equally as delicious. No matter which variation I choose, and the pasta I decide to pair with it, there are several necessities that I add to the sauce every time to make it “mine.” 

Rosemary: When I first had a bolognese in Tuscany, I remember not so much the basil, but a hint of rosemary, which gives it an earthy flavor. Now I can’t do without it. After browning the carrots and celery in olive oil with a dash of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, I add in ground turkey (I used to use a mixture of veal, beef and pork which is more traditional but have since lightened it up). I break up the ground turkey and let it cook for a bit. I scatter with a little bit more salt and pepper, constantly seasoning as I go. Once the meat is fully cooked, I add in about two tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, the same amount of chopped basil and about 4 large cloves of garlic cooking until fragrant.

Red Wine: Red wine is essential to this sauce in my opinion. And again, it’s a perfect way to enjoy a glass of while cooking too. Win, win! I add the wine in after the rosemary, basil and garlic have amply perfumed the meat. At this time I add in about 1/2 – 3/4 of a cup of red wine. I prefer an Italian red (Trader Joe’s is great for this as you don’t want to use your fancy reds for this) and let it cook throughout the meat before incorporating the tomatoes. You don’t want to add the tomatoes immediately after the wine, as you do want the meat to “sweat” it out a bit so the wine mellows out in the sauce.

San Marzano Tomatoes and Tomato Paste: Speaking of tomatoes, canned whole plum San Marzano tomatoes are the only ones I will use in this recipe. I use two 28 oz. cans (this is my favorite brand below) and add in some tomato paste as well for a little bit of richness and depth of flavor. I often just pulse the San Marzano tomatoes with some salt lightly and quickly in my blender (you still want some chunks). For the tomato paste, about two rounded tablespoons.

Sugar or Honey: As mentioned, when I make this sauce I always taste as I go. One thing with canned tomatoes is they can sometimes be a bit acidic. At this point in the process I will often check for salt and pepper seasoning, sprinkling more if necessary, and then add in a tablespoon of sugar or honey to really amp up the sweetness of the tomato flavor.

Butter and Parmesan: Yes, butter. At the end. A large tablespoon or two creates the perfect silkiness and another element of richness to this sauce. I cannot do without. And finally, good parmesan sprinkled profusely on top. A must. 

Bolognese, you have my heart. I find myself the most relaxed when making this recipe, truly in my element, tasting as I go and just letting memory and taste guide me along. I switch up the pastas I serve this with – sometimes a papparedelle, sometimes rigatoni, sometimes a linguine or whatever I have around. Your pick. The only thing for you to do is enjoy! Buon appetito!

3 thoughts

  1. Wow. It makes me so happy and envious to hear how cooking relaxes you so. Don’t you just wish you could bottle up that sensation and give it to friends and family?


    1. Haha, I can think of a few people who would probably like it if I could bottle that up :) But yes, for me, cooking something I love is very relaxing…I imagine you are the same with certain dishes for sure.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s