Pasta bolognese. The meal that will ensure that everyone in the household eats a good hearty meal. It’s all about the basics, isn’t it? I sometimes wonder why I bother with the fancy, complicated stuff sometimes when something as simple as a bowl of pasta with a rich meat sauce makes everyone happy.
I whipped up this lovely version of a simplified bolognese recipe from Giada De Laurentiis – simplified because it uses only ground beef and leaves out the pork, pancetta and wine that usually goes into a bolognese. Although simplified, the taste is still full and rich. We served the pasta on rotini which I find holds the sauce really well.
Simple Bolognese Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 pound ground chuck beef
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes – I used a 28 oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes which I crushed in my hands
1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chiffonade
8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil until almost smoking. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become very soft, about 8 minutes.
Add the celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes.
Turn up heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute, stirring frequently and breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Season to taste and top with parmigiano.
Cabbage is in season and cheap! And I used some earlier this week in my Singapore Noodles recipe. Ground chicken was also on special… what does one do? Search for a recipe that can use both cheap meat and copious amounts of cabbage that sits on a shelf in my fridge, using up an insane amount of space.
Layered cabbage-roll casserole
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup onions, diced
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 /2 cups beef broth
3/4 cups uncooked brown rice (quick cook is best for this recipe!)
1 medium head of cabbage
1 1/2 lbs extra lean ground chicken (or turkey, or beef)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cans cream of tomato soup (I cringed at this because I don’t normally use canned soup but the results were tasty! I made sure to use reduced sodium)
Heat oil in a pot. Add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions bgin to soften. Add broth and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 20-25 minute until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water toi boil. Cut cabbage into 8 wednges and boil for about 5 minutes. Remove tough inner pieces, separate individual leaves and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine rice with beef, egg, parsley, marjoram, salt and pepper. Mix.
Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with 1/2 the cabbage leaves. Spread the beef-rice mixture evenly over the cabbage. Top with the remaining cabbage leaves. Empty both cans of sopu into a medium bowl. Add 1 can of water and mix well. Pour soup evenly over the cabbage. Cover and bake for 1 hour at 350F. Reduce heat to 325F and cook for another 45 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
I’m including a picture even though I shouldn’t, because it honestly looked like one of the most unappetizing meals on the planet! It was really quite tasty! And the meal set me back $5.50 at most!