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.
Pancetta and sausage. How could this recipe go wrong?
It didn’t. It was delicious. So delicious in fact that I’ve skipped making dinner tonight and we’re eating leftovers.
I had some honey garlic sausage in the freezer which needed to be used up. A quick google search and I inspired myself from this recipe. I did make a few changes; I added some roughly chopped red bell pepper, omitted the mushrooms, capers and shallots, used my own tomato sauce and used fresh basil rather than Italian parsley. The end result was superb and I highly recommend it for all you meat-lovers out there. The honey garlic sausage could easily be replaced with Italian sausage, and I will probably use that the next time I make this recipe (because there will be a next time!)
Penne with honey garlic sausage & tomato sauce
1 lb penne pasta
4 medium-sized honey garlic sausage
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 large red pepper, chopped
100 grams pancetta, sliced
2-3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped (I used closer to 5-6 tbsps)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned (I used dehydrated tomatoes and covered them in boiling water for about 10 minutes before slicing them)
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 cups tomato sauce
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook your pasta as per the instructions.
While your pasta cooks, grill your sausage over medium heat until cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the same pan, fry up your pancetta until it is crispy. Turn down the heat and add the onions. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and add bell pepper.Cook another 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, sausage and about half the basil to the pan. Stir and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain and add to your pan. Toss to coat and remove from heat. Add half the cheese and stir. Serve and garnish with remaining basil and parmesan.