Bolognese is SO. COOL.
It’s just a sweet, flavor-packed spaghetti sauce – but the base of the sauce is made from hearty root vegetables. And WINE.
Could this BE any awesome-er? (I may have been compulsively watching Friends all week. Whatever. It’s only the best show in the history of forever).
Answer: No. It could not be any awesome-er.
Traditional bolognese is made with beef, but I swapped that out for italian sausage to add a bit of a kick to the sauce. I also set aside a few hours one afternoon to really let the sauce and its flavors develop – you can rush this process a little bit, but this definitely isn’t a five-minute pasta sauce. It takes some lovin’ and some time. PERFECT for cloudy afternoons spent dreading impending snowstorms and watching a whole season of Friends.
Italian Sausage Bolognese
Adapted from Anne Burrell
2 large carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cloves garlic
1/2 of a large yellow onion
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. italian sausage
2 cups hearty red wine (Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, or Syrahs work well)
1/2 cup tomato paste
2-4 cups water
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 lb. pasta (I used spaghetti)
1 cup parmesan cheese, for garnishing
1. In a food processor, puree carrots, celery, garlic, and onion until they form a thick paste. Make sure all the mixture is well blended.
2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add vegetable puree, salt and pepper. Saute until veggies are cooked and browned, about 10 minutes. Don’t be afraid of brown food! It tastes better. You’ll deglaze the pan later, so don’t be afraid if the veggies stick a bit.
3. Add italian sausage to the pan. Break it apart with a spoon or spatula as you cook it and saute until meat is browned.
4. Add tomato paste to the pan. Stir to incorporate the paste with the other ingredients and cook about 1 minute.
5. Add 1/2 cup of the red wine and stir to break up any clumps of meat and veggies. Add the remaining red wine, chopped basil, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
6. Cook until red wine has reduced by half, about 10-15 minutes.
7. Add 1 cup of the water. Bring back to a simmer and cook until water has reduced by 2/3, about 25-30 minutes. Repeat, adding 1 cup of water and reducing, until you are ready to eat. This is where the flavor really builds – keep adding water and reducing as needed! This is also the right time to add additional seasoning. When you’re ready to eat, reduce the sauce one final time.
8. Cook pasta according to package or recipe directions until 1 minute less than al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
9. Add reserved pasta water to sauce and mix to incorporate. Add pasta to saucepan and mix to coat the noodles. Serve immediately and top with parmesan cheese to garnish.