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.

Weeknight Bolognese

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
  1. 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.
  2. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Save 1/4 cup of the wine to finish the sauce, and pour the rest in now.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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)