Where to begin? When John and I were dating, the first meal he ever cooked for me was his bolognese sauce tossed with penne. I remember to this day how wonderful his condo smelled and how neat it was! My husband was and still is a neat freak…not that I am at all complaining. For a bachelor, his place was immaculate – even the cupboards were tidy! He had the dining room table all laid out: candles lit, music playing and red wine decanted.
We’ve been together 17 years and on the eve of our marriage, he made his bolognese sauce for our family. The kids love this sauce and he always makes enough for seconds. Whatever is leftover gets placed in the freezer. He has no recipe, just puts it in a pot, in sequence of course. I think fundamentally this recipe captures the essence of how to recreate this yummy dish even though John cooks like his mom, a little bit of this or a pinch of that. You may need to increase or decrease an ingredient to suit your palate.
Serves 6 to 8
1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped or sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped or sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon Italian herb mix
large can Italian plum tomatoes
1 lb. penne or other favorite pasta
In a large pot over medium heat add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add Italian herbs and cook until fragrant then add garlic slices. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add ground beef, stir and cook until done (about 10 minutes or until no pink is showing). Spoon canned tomatoes into the meat sauce and add some of the juice. Stir until combined and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. When the sauce begins to bubble, add a couple squirts of ketchup. Stir occasionally to break up the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes have broken up, add bell peppers. Simmer 20 minutes or until peppers are al dente. John usually lets this sit for an hour or so.
When ready to serve, cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain and add to bolognese sauce. When thoroughly mixed, serve in bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Many years ago John was told by an Italian friend to add ketchup to the sauce. If you let the sauce sit, reheat before adding pasta. Bolognese sauce in Italian is known as ragù alla bolognese (a meat-based sauce from Bologna, Italy).