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Penne alla Bolognese (Pasta with Meat Sauce)

12 October 2010

There’s nothing that I’d rather do after a busy week than cook a pot of comfort food. Call it “culinary therapy.” This is my go-to recipe because it’s simple yet classy – and soooooo tasty. Even though there are a ton of shortcuts available these days, this recipe is well worth doing from scratch. Just throw the ingredients in a pan and simmer until done. A bonus: it freezes and reheats well.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large can tomato sauce (good quality)

1 small can tomato paste

1 tsp oregano

2 tsp basil

Several shakes of Italian seasoning

2 whole bay leaves

Couple shakes garlic salt

Dash nutmeg

Dash of sugar

½ cup dry red wine

1 small can black olives, sliced

Fresh mushrooms, scrubbed

DIRECTIONS

Brown ground beef with onions and garlic. Drain grease. Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste and all remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for at least an hour but preferably four or five. It just gets better with age.

NOTES

  • Don’t scrimp on the tomato sauce. Buy quality.
  • Don’t like mushrooms? Don’t like olives? Substitute and adapt as needed.
  • This recipe can also be made in a crockpot.
  • Serve with gluten-free pasta for a delicious gluten-free meal. 
  • Suits any type of pasta.
  • Can substitute ground turkey for beef.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.

THE SECRET INGREDIENT

I like to cook this dish to a background of Italian arias: I think it encourages the flavors to mingle and “get to know each other” during the simmering time. Hey, whatever works, right?

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