An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Homemade Bolognese Sauce

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Thursday, September 5, 2019

Homemade Bolognese Sauce

Making this traditional "spaghetti sauce" yourself is SO easy, has far less sugar than jarred sauce, and has hidden veggies in it too


It's funny how life changes when you "grow up" and become an adult. As a little girl, both my mom and stepmom always made bolognese sauce from scratch. I remember my mom making it in a pressure cooker (the old school Instant Pot!) after work and my step mom making it in a beige dutch oven on a weekend, letting it cook all day long. Fast forward 22 years and I had my own apartment, cooking all my own meals. And... I bought jarred sauce. I'd always add some of my own herbs to brighten it up, but I bought jarred sauce for 12 years before I rediscovered the art of making my own. Yes, it takes a little time, but you can throw all this stuff in a slow cooker or instant pot (or a pressure cooker!) before work and come home to an amazing meal. Or, you can do it on the stove top and double or triple the recipe, then freeze the leftovers for a month or two down the road. Seriously, once you learn how to make it from scratch, you'll never buy jarred sauce again! This is how I make homemade bolognese sauce.


My kids all love spaghetti sauce, so I look at this as an opportunity. They don't love veggies. In fact, one of the only ways I've found to get them to eat veggies are those fruit and veggie pouches (you know, that have tons of fruit and like one veggie in it... Oh well). I take this opportunity to hide veggies in the sauce! Not only does it deepen the flavor of the meat sauce, but it provides extra nutrition for a traditionally carb and cheese heavy meal.


Homemade Bolognese Sauce
- 1-2 carrots, but into small pieces
- half a large white onion, diced
- half a package fresh spinach
- half a pint Portabella mushrooms, diced
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 pound ground beef (I like the 90/10 local grass fed beef for this so it's not too greasy)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1-2 cups of water
- variety of fresh herbs (read below for details)
- salt and pepper

In a large dutch oven pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrots, mushrooms and spinach. Cook for several minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the ground beef and salt and pepper. Cook until the beef is cooked through. Add the oregano, basil, and garlic and cook a minute or so. Stir in the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and add the sugar (the sugar cuts the acidity of canned tomatoes so it's not as sharp on your tongue... The more you know, right?!)


Add the water until the sauce is slightly runny. Don't worry, it will thicken! Let all that stew together over low heat for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. The effort of this recipe is in cutting up the veggies and browning the ground beef, after everything is in the pot it's super easy! Just turn the stove down low and let it bubble away. If the sauce gets thick, add water.

After all the veggies, sauce, tomatoes and spices have been added
After it's cooked for about an hour, add some fresh herbs. I grow a variety of herbs in my garden and use whatever happens to be flourishing. That's part of the beauty of this recipe, it's flexible! Have a ton of fresh rosemary? Great, add it. Basil? Yes, delicious. I've done fresh chives, thyme, basil and rosemary, or a combination of all of those. The sauce takes on a different flavor every time, but it's always delicious! As long as my basil is growing well, I top it with fresh basil before eating which is extra yummy.

After the sauce has been cooking for a few hours
Just like with the herbs, the same goes for veggies! Don't like mushrooms? Don't add them! Have something on hand that's about to go bad - use it! I've added fresh tomatoes from my garden that were too "mushy" to eat on a sandwich but perfect for a sauce. Root veggies are great to add for winter sauces, and summer squash and zucchini work in the summer. I just like to add 3-4 of whatever veggies I have laying around, and make sure to roast them a bit first in the pan, before the beef and the tomato sauce is added. That helps develop the flavor.

I like to top this robust homemade bolongese sauce over fettuccine or linguine. I like the way the thicker noodle holds up to all the meat and veggies! But you can certainly put it over whatever pasta you prefer. It pairs well with a side salad. If I happen to have a ton of fresh basil, I like to pair it with a caprese salad (fresh mozzarella, tomato slices and basil, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar) or you could make your life super easy and pick up a bagged Cesar salad. Yup, that was the sound of all my foodie blogger friends cringing at the fact I recommended a bagged salad. Oh well! I happen to like them and how easy they make my life.

A white bowl of linguine pasta covered in bolognese sauce with a side sprig of fresh basil
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Once you make this sauce, you'll never go back to jarred again! It's so easy to make homemade bolognese sauce. All it takes is time, but if you've got an instant pot or a slow cooker, you can easily make this while you're at work or use the pressure cooker function on your instant pot and throw it together when you get home. It's the perfect Sunday meal (as seen here with Teddy) or weeknight meal. Don't buy jarred sauce! Make your own homemade bolognese sauce.

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  2. love bolognese! my husband only wants it with meat and tomato sauce and onions. I prefer it your way with the mushrooms and carrots. I guess we all have to compromise some time =)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I only eat selected pasta. But this one looks so tasty. I love the texture of the sauce so I may have a taste on this when I can.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This looks amazing! Bolognese is my favorite! I'm going to definitely give this recipe a try - minus the meat because I'm vegan! :)

    -Madi xo | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com

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  5. I love cooking from scracth, I do not like canned food except it is sardines, so I am glad you tried it out.

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  6. Yummy! This looks so good! I'll have to give it a try soon!

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  7. I love being able to sneak veggies in any way that I can. This looks like a great recipe!

    -Jennifer

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