Recipes

Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce

Rich, meaty Bolognese Sauce is easy to make and can be on the table in 35 minutes. Use it to top pasta noodles, or layer in lasagna. It’s freezer-friendly too. Make a double or triple batch to enjoy all winter long!

During the cooler months, and sometimes during the summer, I make a huge pot of classic slow-cooked Bolognese to satisfy my craving for a thick and meaty pasta dish—and to have enough left over to freeze for later.

I call it my ‘Patience of Job Bolognese’ because it simmers for at least three hours, and up to four, but I discovered an easier way.

I tinkered with my favorite recipe to see if I could cut back on time, and I am happy to say that the results are in, and they are good!

WHAT IS BOLOGNESE SAUCE?

As the name suggests, Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy. It is a thick meat sauce made with ground beef or a combination of ground meat such as pork, beef, and veal.

Typically, it starts with a soffritto (finely chopped carrots, celery, and onions) gently cooked in butter. Milk or cream, white wine, and a small amount of tomato enrich the sauce.

The ingredients are added in stages, with each ingredient taking time to cook before adding the next ingredient. When they are all in the pot, the sauce simmers for three to four hours to produce a finished product that is more meat than tomatoes, with a very rich and luscious texture.

Tips for A FASTER, EASIER BOLOGNESE SAUCE

As much as I love the traditional sauce and even enjoy the slow cooking, sometimes at the end of a busy day I want my pasta tonight! Here are two easy things I did to make a quicker bolognese sauce:

  • Pulse the vegetables in a food processor instead of chopping them by hand.
  • Cook the sauce in a wide skillet instead of a Dutch oven.

The wider surface area of the skillet allows the vegetables to cook faster and speeds up evaporation, allowing the remaining ingredients to reduce and concentrate their flavors in less time.

I was down to about 35 minutes from start to finish, and I still had a sauce that was delicious and satisfying.

Did I lose anything in this condensed cooking time?

Truth: just a smidgen. The long-simmered sauce has a lot of depth, while the shorter version is not quite as sweet and creamy. But frankly, it wasn’t a deal breaker. Unless you taste them side by side, you can hardly tell the difference.

Bolognese in 35 minutes? I’ll take it.

WHAT PASTA GOES BEST WITH BOLOGNESE?

While spaghetti is often a favorite choice (the British even call their dish ‘spag bol’), I love the long, flat ribbons of tagliatelle or fettucine. The meaty sauce is balanced perfectly with the texture of the wider noodles. You can use the sauce to make lasagna, too.

HOW LONG CAN YOU KEEP BOLOGNESE SAUCE?

Stored in an airtight container, the sauce will keep for three to four days in the refrigerator, and up to six months in the freezer. It’s still safe to eat after that, but loses some quality.

I recommend storing it in small-ish (two-cup) containers to give you more choices when reheating. To defrost, place the frozen sauce in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil on top of the stove over low heat.

LOOKING FOR MORE GREAT PASTA RECIPES?

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  • Pasta with Butternut Parmesan Sauce
  • Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce
  • Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Creamy Herb Cashew Sauce
  • Shrimp Pasta alla Vodka

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