Bolognese, My Way

I am not Italian. I have no rights. I like pasta with red sauce, rosé sauce, vodka, white, alfredo, pesto, butter, olive oil, garlic. You catch my drift. I didn’t grow up with sauce on the stove on Sundays. I grew up with a Pace (do you remember Pace, before Sam’s Club, BJ’s, and Costco?) size tin of spaghetti and large jars of spaghetti sauce. There was a lot of mouths to feed, and I think (what do I know, I don’t have five kids, and only one car) for my mom it was easy and inexpensive and something we all ate without large complaint. Add a loaf of Italian garlic bread, and it may have been the only quiet she got in a day.

Now, it’s a different story. One of my favorite things to order on any menu is Bolognese. Slow cooked rabbit, wild boar, or oxtail. I order it because it wasn’t something I would make. HA. My have the times changed. Admittedly, I don’t use rabbit or oxtail or boar at home because there is a limit to the amount whining about dinner that I can really handle, and they aren’t practical for my life at the moment. One day, right?

I actually jumped on this train a few summers ago. Yes, sauce in summer. Goes against all my seasonal traditions, kinda. It really came out of the fact that I had way too many vegetables and herbs, and I knew I couldn’t use them all up. I thought, I can do this. I can make my own sauce, and I have been messing around with this recipe ever since.

I really like to make this on a day when I know I will be home all day, and this can sit on the stovetop while I load the washer, vacuum a bedroom, or dare I say, write.


Bolognese, My Way

  • Author: a chef’s wife
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner


1 lb ground beef
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 T grape seed oil
1 zucchini, quartered and sliced, reserve one half
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, quartered and sliced
2 celery stalks, rough cut
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 T parsely
2 T oregano
1 T salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c red wine
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
20 basil leaves, chopped


In a cast iron sauce pan, on medium heat, brown the ground beef and sausage.

While the meat is browning, in a large dutch oven, on medium high heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, carrots, celery, half the zucchini, salt and pepper, and sweat for five minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the chopped garlic. Stir. Lean your head over the pot. Take a deep breath. All the way into the belly. Slow exhale. This is heaven friends. Now, get it back, because garlic can burn, quickly. And frankly it tastes like burnt garlic, which bites. Literally.

Add the tomato paste, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, parsley, and oregano and combine.

Add the red wine. Cook down for several minutes. I drop the heat to medium at this point.

Add the crushed tomatoes. Just as it starts to bubble, drop the temperature to low.

Add the browned beef and sausage, and let simmer. Could be endlessly, but at least twenty minutes.

Five minutes before serving, add the other half of zucchini and the basil leaves. Serve over your favorite pasta, garnish with parmesan cheese, and fresh basil.


You can add any veg you like – button mushroom, exotic mushrooms, peppers, peas, egg plant – the sky is the limit. 

This can be meatless. You know, just don’t add the meat. 

This is not just for pasta. You can eat this alone. Yes, alone. Some greens on the side, and it’s a meal. This is great on rice, corn bread, naan bread, garlic bread, spaghetti squash if you are the type that likes that – I am not that type, but I don’t judge. You get the picture. 

This recipe can be made on Monday and eaten on Saturday, so it’s a great make ahead, and it freezes beautifully. 

Keywords: bolognese, pasta, sauce