My weeknight bolognese recipe proves that you’re never too busy for a decadent Italian meal!
Bolognese is one of the most common Italian pasta recipes out there. Every Italian restaurant worth its garlic salt has its own version that riffs on the original dish from Bologna. At its roots, bolognese is pasta in a beef and wine sauce, but many recipes add cheese, cream, or tomato to liven this rustic dish.
However you eat it, my recipe will help you put a hot meal on the table no matter how crazy your night!
Not only is the meal from my bolognese recipe Italian food at its best, but it also hits all the requirements of soul-satisfying comfort food!
- Start to eat in less than an hour
- Minimal cleanup!
- Red wine cooked right in the sauce
- Italian flavor favorites!
My recipe uses similar ingredients you might’ve seen in other Italian dishes. But there are a few twists that make this meal extra mm-mm-good! Let’s walk through the ins and outs:
From hearty ground beef to rich red wine, each ingredient brings its own flavor sensation to this recipe!
Italian Seasoning: Ever wonder what, exactly, is in Italian seasoning? The exact combination can vary, but at its core, Italian seasoning mixes are the herbs most associated with Italian cooking. Commonly, you’ll see oregano, basil, and thyme, as the mixture in the McCormick version.
Red Wine: Since red wine is such a prominent richness in this dish, you want to make sure you choose the best red wine for sauces. I, personally, love a good Pinot Noir wine — they’re dark but not bitter, with smooth, earthy notes that don’t overpower the other ingredients. But feel free to adapt your wine choice based on your own tastes!
Beef: For this recipe, I recommend using 80/20 ground beef. What is that? 80/20 refers to the fat content found in ground beef. You can buy beef with less fat (90/10), but this recipe benefits from added fat for flavor and texture.
How should you store the result of this recipe to seal in every delicious flavor? Read on!
Can You Freeze This?
Yes! Sort of. The meat sauce portion of this recipe can absolutely freeze — cool it, store it in an airtight container, and you’ll get up to six months out of it in the freezer.
The noodles, on the other hand, typically do not do well when frozen. Reheated frozen noodles have all kinds of texture issues, and while some people might be okay with eating them, I think your hard-won bolognese deserves better! Boil fresh pasta when you want to eat the rest of your bolognese sauce.
Make Ahead Tips
The beauty of this recipe is that it’s designed to whip together in less than an hour! Because this recipe is specifically altered to work with those crazy busy nights, there isn’t much you can do to accelerate the cooking process.
If you want to, you can always make the sauce ahead of time, and store it in the fridge for up to four days. Which leads us to…
How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?
I love to portion out my leftovers so I have grab and go lunches throughout the week! Luckily, this bolognese has a nice long fridge life — four days to be exact. You might start to see some liquid separation by that fourth day, but give your sauce a stir and it’ll be good as fresh!
Remember when I said there are plenty of versions of bolognese out there? Well, let’s get creative with our version too!
Can I Use Chicken Instead Of Beef?
Swapping out your proteins couldn’t be easier! Turkey bolognese is a great use of any leftover turkey following the holidays, while chicken bolognese is a delicious way to get the same flavor with less calories.
Can I Cook This In An Instant Pot Or A Crockpot?
Yes! Want your whole house to smell of delicious Italian spices? Slow cooker bolognese will bring basil and tomato richness to every corner of your home. Yum! And Instant Pot bolognese is an amazing one-pot meal that you can make, set, and forget!
What Other Types of Pasta Can I Partner This With?
This bolognese recipe uses spaghetti, but feel free to shake things up! Pappardelle bolognese is incredibly popular, and one bite of those wide, flat noodles will make you a convert. Lasagna Bolognese is a great way to use leftover lasagna noodles while tagliatelle bolognese is so fun to make — like cooking little bird nests!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef, 80/20
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 3/4 cups red wine,--divided
- 1 (28-ounces) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until there is no longer any pink, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the garlic, pepper, Italian seasoning, rosemary, red pepper flakes to the skillet and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic has softened.
- Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the red wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, and black pepper until evenly combined. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, cook pasta in well-salted water according to package instructions. Drain well. Return pasta to pasta pot.
- Stir in the nutmeg, cream, and remaining 1/4 wine to the sauce and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Pour the sauce and Parmesan over the pasta and toss to evenly coat. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Want this luscious, heart bolognese flavor in other dishes? Here are some yummy Italian treats!
- Gnocchi Bolognese – Little pillows of perfection!
- Mushroom Bolognese – Enhance that earthy flavor with mushrooms
- Rigatoni Bolognese – Rigatoni gives plenty of ridges for the sauce to stick to!
- Beef Bolognese – Celebrate that beef flavor!
- Ragu Bolognese – kids will love this!
Beef or chicken, spaghetti or pappardelle, cheese or none, bolognese is a crowd-pleasing Italian meal. And this weeknight bolognese recipe helps make it even easier to bring filling, delicious dinners to your family!
What variations of bolognese is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That