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.
I recently realized that while I’ve been making a concerted effort to eat more whole foods, I’ve been resorting to pre-made processed stuff for things that are relatively easy and inexpensive to make. Pizza sauce is one of them. Why do I go to trouble to make my own batches of pizza dough and make great, wholesome pizzas if I’m going to buy the jarred or canned sauce to top it with?
I decided to give making my own sauce from scratch a try. It was a relatively painless process. A few minutes to get water boiling to blanch my tomatoes and to chop up all the ingredients. The rest of the cooking process was a walk in the park! The sauce is delicious and I can actually see myself using it as a base for various pasta sauces, too.
Tomato Pizza Sauce
5 or 6 vine ripened tomatoes, blanched, skinned and roughly chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
Pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Fry the onion, garlic and oregano, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes, vinegar, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Using a blender, food processor or immersion blender and blend until smooth. I separated the sauce in 1/2 cup portions and froze the leftovers.
Oh! and Mommy got a new toy! I took the plunge and got an entry-level dSLR (thank you Wal-Mart anniversary sale!) I’m thrilled with my purchase. I’m by no means an expert photographer and I still shoot in automatic or preset modes, but I’d been seriously disappointed with the image quality of my old camera; I’m totally blown away by the crispness of the images on the new camera. I mean look! I took these pictures all by myself. Wheee!
I’m in love.
Thanks to my brother-in-law, I discovered this absolutely amazing marinara sauce at Costco. Yeeeesss.. I use jarred marinara sauce! I kid you not, it’s probably one of the best marinara sauces I’ve ever tasted. Bonus? The ingredient list is completely respectable; no weird preservatives or unintelligible ingredients.
Here’s what the (empty) jar looks like:
For dinner, I just made up a quick batch of meatballs:
1.5 lbs extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together and form into small meatballs.
Pour sauce into sauce pan while making meatballs and bring to a boil.
Add meatballs straight into sauce, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes.
Serve over al dente spaghetti noodles.