Nothing takes the chill out of a cold, wet, rainy day like a big bowl full of something warm. Shrimp and grits. Chicken and dumplings. Taco soup crowned with Fritos. Things that make a house feel like it’s reaching its arms around you and pulling you in, in a way that butternut squash just can’t quite manage.
Nothing against butternut squash – I love it – but it doesn’t put the same smile on Jeff’s face as coming home to the smell of Weeknight Bolognese simmering on the stove.
Not even close.
The goal of a Weeknight Bolognese is to conjure up the basic flavor of a classic Bolognese while reducing the cooking time from roughly the length of a Kardashian marriage to a quick, 30-minute romp. Instead of using skirt steak and a mix of vegetables, you brown a pound of lean ground beef and help it reach its full potential by adding crushed San Marzano tomatoes, dry red wine, garlic, spices, fresh basil, cream and a small handful of Parmesan.
One bite, and you might start thinking you owe it to the world to open your own Italian joint.
This is a perfect one-dish meal, so don’t ruin it with a side salad. Just declare your table a fiber-free zone, and ladle the sauce over the whitest pasta you can find.
Now, that’s amore.
Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?”
Makes 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground sirloin
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 cup dry red wine, divided
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) dried pasta, like medium shells or orecchiette
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup half and half
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet or round Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color.
- Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute.
- Save 1/4 cup of the wine to finish the sauce, and pour the rest in now.
- Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and cook the pasta, according to the instructions on the package.
- While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of wine, the basil and the cream. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- When the pasta is done, drain and pour it into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce. Toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the table.
Nutritional Information (Per Serving) – calories: 589, fat: 19, carbs: 57, fiber: 8, protein: 37. (WW PP+ = 15)