There’s something so comforting about Italian food, especially the way it brings family and friends together. Whenever I cook Italian, I try to channel an old Italian grandmother by using this age-old secret ingredient: love. By putting all my love into the food and preparation, a good meal can become a great meal.
Bolognese is a staple of Italian cooking, though I actually had zero experience making a bolognese sauce before this. I’m all about easy always, so this recipe is right up my alley. Use the freshest ingredients whenever possible (just another way you can add love to the meal), including fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones if they’re in season. To make this recipe even easier, I recommend having a blender on hand to help with the sauce.
-5 large tomatoes, medium or large diced depending on your blender (my favorite, if you have access to them, are early girl organic dry-farmed tomatoes)
-6 basil leaves
-3 whole garlic cloves, plus 2 chopped garlic cloves (keep separate)
-1lb ground beef (grass-fed, organic)
-1 yellow onion, small diced
-1 lb shitake mushrooms, chopped
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-extra virgin olive oil
-crushed red pepper flakes
- In a blender, add these ingredients in the following order: 1/2 cup olive oil, chopped tomatoes, 3 whole garlic cloves, basil, salt, and pepper. Blend until it’s a sauce.
- In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil or enough to almost cover the bottom of the pan. Add the chopped meat, carrots, onions, mushrooms, and chopped garlic. Break apart the meat using a wooden spatula or another cooking utensil. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until meat is browned and vegetables are soft. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste. Stir in the tomato paste until it becomes dark in color, then pour the sauce from the blender. Let the sauce simmer for some time (could be as long as an hour) to get a really flavorful sauce.
- Heat a large pot of salted water and bring to a rapid boil. Add spaghetti and cook for about 10 minutes until al dente. Reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water. Strain the spaghetti and return to the pot.
- Add the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce the temperature to a simmer for a few minutes. Add the sauce to the pot of spaghetti and stir in to combine. Plate and garnish with basil leaves. Enjoy!
*Some notes about cooking pasta:
– Never add oil to the pot of water or you’ll get sticky pasta. Add oil after the pasta cooks to keep it from sticking together.
-Always salt the water.
-Reserve pasta water and add to your sauce to allow the sauce to easily mix and stick to the pasta.