Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

With all of the grey and dreary days that we have been having lately I have been craving some comfort food and top on the list is spaghetti alla bolognese otherwise known simply as spaghetti. Spaghetti has been one of my favorite foods since I was a kid and it was one of the first recipes that I learned how to make for myself. Despite the long list of ingredients, this recipe is actually really easy, requiring very little actual hands on time. I do a couple of things differently in this recipe starting with the vegetables which I pulse in the food processor. I want the flavours and aromas that the onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms provide but I like the meat sauce to be about the meat and pulsing them in the food processor allows me to have them without changing the texture of the sauce. Up next, I add some pancetta which is just packed with flavour followed by a glass of red wine.

Whenever I finish a piece of parmigiano reggiano I toss the rind into the freezer saving it for when I make a tomato sauce like this one where it is going to be simmering for a long time. You simple add the rind to the sauce all of it flavour will enter the sauce as it cooks. In addition to all of ingredients in this recipe, one of the keys to a really tasty sauce is to allow it to simmer for a long time and in fact bolognese sauce is one of those sauces that taste even better the next day when the flavours have had a chance to come out and work their magic. Of course whenever I make spaghetti alla bolognese I take the opportunity to make some cheesy garlic toast to serve with it.

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Spaghetti alla Bolognese

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Servings: 4

A flavour packed beef and tomato sauce served over pasta.

  • 1 medium onion, cut into small chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into small chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into small chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta or bacon, diced
  • 1 cup red wine (or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (5 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 parmigiano reggiano rind (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti (gluten free for gluten free)
  • 1 handful parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
  1. Pulse the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and mushrooms in a food processor along with the oil.
  2. Cook the ground beef in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until brown all over drain and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in the same pan on medium high heat.
  4. Add the pancetta and saute until it starts to get crispy.
  5. Add the pulsed vegetables and saute until they begin to caramelize.
  6. Add the beef, wine, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, parmigiano reggiano rind, bay leaves, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered for 1-3 hours.
  8. Cook the spaghetti as directed on the package.
  9. Toss the spaghetti and the sauce or serve the sauce on the spaghetti and garnish with parsley and grated parmigiano reggiano.


amanda abby said...

I LOVE bolognese sauce. I'll have to try your version sometime.

Anonymous said...

That looks absolutely fabulous. I am going to need to hire you as my personal chef! haha


Jennifurla said...

I am such a noob, I had no idea to save the rinds! This looks lovely.

kimchicsisters said...

this looks great!

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Jane said...

This seems controversial Kevin! Since it is sans basil. But it sill looks yummy!

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you: you cook like a real italian! and one good at cooking too! a lot of people here in Italy cooks bolognese this way (pulsing sauce and with a bit of pancetta)including my mother and me. But using the crust in a sauce or in a broth is something only a very traditional and refined cook does: it adds incredible flavour! My compliments to the chef!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A wonderful classic dish! I never get tired of eating it...



Stephanie @ I really take the cake said...

This looks absolutely fabulous. Spaghetti alla Bolognese is my mood food since I was little. But I've not found the perfect recipe yet. Thanks for sharing!

Distilled said...

One of the tips I got a while back (and, so conversely, one of the mistakes I had been making before this) is to cook the meat on a very high heat. Before I would cook it on the same heat at which I had been doing my onions and it wouldn't go a nice brown colour, but grey and dreary. urgh!

Bolagnese is one of the dishes I love doing because it is so easy, but there are still nuances which I learn each time I cook it. I've never pulsed the veg in a processor before (mainly because I don't have one!) but I'll be sure to try it once we've moved to a new place with more kitchen space!

Joanne said...

This is pure unadulterated comfort food to me too Kevin! Delicious.

Lizzie said...

Bolognese is delicious; I usually cook mine for about 2 - 3 hours uncovered to get a really rich, thick sauce. I also throw in a star anise in the simmer, it really brings out the beefy flavour. Great photos!

Ruth Daniels said...

Bolognese is definitely one of my favorite comfort foods. I love the notion of adding a Parmesan rind and some pancetta to the mix. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

Kathleen said...

this and some homemade bread tonight! thanks.

kathleen xx

Best Wishes, Marie said...

great post.

impressive blog.

anniebakes said...

Good stuff, Kevin!! anne

Mushrooms Canada said...

I love spaghetti! It was also one of the first things I learned to make as a kid... of course back then I didn't like mushrooms in my sauce lol.

Thanks for sharing!
- Brittany

Lauren said...

This sounds truly delicious. I like the idea of pulsing the veggies in a food processor for quick prep!

Danielle said...

I've been wanting to make a bolognese lately, definitely going to try it soon. It looks outragous!

Velva said...

Fabulous sauce. I love adding rind to long simmering sauces too.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this changes everything. I just recently started expanding my palate beyond the ho hum of meals that cycle through our kitchen. This brings up a KEY question if this is spaghetti...WHAT HAVE I BEEN EATING! Thank you dearly for sharing.

katerina said...

This looks delicious, any meaty spaghetti reciupe is good right!?

There are huge variations in different bolognese recipes all over Italy, usually when I make a real bolognese sauce I use beef broth and very little tomato. Certainly no tomato paste. I have also found that you can make a reallky good recipe in 30 minutes, but for something that has that Grandmas kitchen feel it needs like 3 hours.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a bolognese in so long but I agree that it's a most comforting dish. This is definitely bookmarked!

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

I've never had mushroom in a Bolognese sauce, but it sounds like a neat addition. Next time I make it I'll give it a try!

Lauren and Sarah said...

Mmm...this looks really good!
My sister and I went to a cooking class last night where we learned how to make fresh pasta. Have you ever made some?

Kelly @ Evil Shenanigans said...

I love bolognese sauce. I use it lasagna and also over stuffed pasta. It is so good!

Elizabeth said...

There is nothing like a good bolognese sauce. This looks amazing, I'll be sure to give this recipe a whirl soon!

dining room table said...

This is a nice recipe you have here. Pretty different from what we used to make! Thanks.

Dee said...

I make a similar recipe, Kevin...and it is delicious! But, I am surprised that you do not put basil in yours. Is it due to a personal taste?

Scott said...


One of my tricks for making a quick sauce is to use Italian sausage (bulk if you can find it or just remove it from the casing). The fennel and sage flavors are already built in. And I use only one small can of tomatoes. To save clean up I roughly chop the onion, carrot and mushrooms and and then after it is cooked I use a hand blender to smooth it in the pot. No cuisinart to clean! Try adding some ground sage, parmesan and heavy cream right at the end for an even richer sauce. Scott

Kate Morgan Jackson said...

LOVE this - I am always so excited to find a new bolognese recipe!

Kevin said...

Distilled: I am glad that you mentioned that as I forgot to. For maximum flavour, you want to brown and even start to caramelize the meat but after doing that you are going to have to simmer it in the sauce for longer to get the it nice and tender. If you want your meal done faster you can just cook the meat until no longer pink and then you do not need as much simmer time for the meat to get tender. For the quickest version of all you
can skip cooking the meat before hand completely and add it uncooked to the sauce as it simmers and break it apart with your spoon.

Lauren and Sarah: I make udon noodles but I have not tried anything thinner than that. I need to get a pasta maker or invest in a heavier rolling pin. :)

Lizzie: I like the sound of trying bolognese with star anise!

Dee: I love basil in a nice fresh marinara sauce but I prefer the bolognese without it. You can easily add some fresh basil just after you turn off the heat or just garnish the spaghetti with with it.

Scott: Nice tips!

Sonia said...

What a beautiful plate of spaghetti. Looks absolutely delicious!! Great tip about the parmesan rinds in sauces that need to simmer for a long time. To think I would just toss mine in the garbage. Never again!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, i'm ITALIAN. this recipe, maybe is good (for you) but is TOTALLY NO ITALIAN.. is not the right one.. not at all.. for the right recipe, search on italian links.


Unknown said...

Try it with home made pasta....Excellent!

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