This pasta with bolognese sauce is probably my kids absolute favourite meal; so much so that I make it just about every other weekend. I’m pretty sure that if they could have it more often, they would gobble it up just the same. The wonderful thing about this bolognese sauce is that it is packed with hidden veggies and so it makes for a wonderful kid-friendly dinner the whole family can enjoy.
The sauce simmers on the stove top for several hours, filling the house with mouth-watering aroma’s. The bolognese sauce comes out meltingly tender, full of rich wonderful flavours. It takes a bit of work from the onset, but once your veggies are finely chopped and everything is in the pot, it’s just a matter of checking in on it every hour or so and stirring occasionally to finish it off.
I’ve served this on many, many occasions to kids who are ‘super picky eaters’ and they too have enjoyed this meal, with no complaints that they can taste the veggies. What’s great about this bolognese sauce is that you can swap in as many veggies as you have on hand. The core essentials are onion, carrots and celery, but then you can go as crazy as you’d like. When I make this bolognese sauce I usually also add in zucchini, red pepper, green pepper and mushrooms. The vegetables need to be chopped very, very finely so that they get sneaked in (see what I did there?!) though, so please keep that in mind.
I usually pair this with a homemade caesar salad that I make (I’ll have to post the recipe soon), and occasionally some garlic bread. I hope that you enjoy this as much as we do!
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion peeled and chopped very finely
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped very finely
- 2 celery stalks, chopped very finely
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped very finely or minced
- 1 red pepper, chopped very finely
- 1 green pepper, chopped very finely
- 10 large mushrooms, chopped very finely
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped very finely
- Small handful of parsley, chopped finely
- 1 pound mix of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal
- ¾ teaspoon salt (plus more for pasta water)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 2 cups beef stock (do not substitute for chicken or vegetable stock)
- 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes or passata
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 pound pasta (penne, ziti, fettucini)
- Parmesan cheese (for serving, optional)
- Finely chop the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and parsley. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add all of the finely chopped vegetables (aside from the parsley). Let it cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Lower the heat if vegetables start to brown.
- Add the ground beef/pork/veal mixture, salt and pepper to the veggie mixture and cook over medium-high heat. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon until the meat is no longer pink.
- At this time there should be some liquid from the meat. Add the red wine to the sauce and cook until liquid is almost dissolved, 3-5 minutes.
- Add beef stock, crushed tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to low (you'll notice that there seems to be a lot of liquid at this point, it is suppose to be like this, keep going!). Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer for 45 minutes (make sure the lid is slightly ajar).
- After 45 minutes, stir the sauce, cover the lid completely and simmer for 45 minutes more.
- Add milk to sauce. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer until milk is absorbed, about 35-45 minutes. You will need to keep checking in on the sauce at the 30 minute mark. If there is still a good amount of liquid, continue cooking for 10-15 min more. If it is starting to look thick with just same liquid, just cover to keep warm (off the heat), while you make the pasta.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Once noodles are del dente, drain them and add them to the sauce. Toss with tongs. Taste adjust seasonings (salt and pepper), if necessary.
- Serve immediately with parmesan cheese and freshly chopped basil if desired.
*Recipe slightly adapted from Once Upon a Chef, Fettuccine Bolognese.