Monday, June 16, 2008

Simple Bolognese

When I was living in Hong Kong, there was a little Italian grocery store that I liked to frequent. It was called Viva Italia and the owner (a sleazy womanizer with the craziest stories) shipped everything over from Italy. He held free cooking classes/demonstrations and tastings (YUM!) twice a week to show us how to use the ingredients in his store. I'd go to these classes as often as possible, meet lots of interesting people, hear about his shady escapades, eat a lot of great food, and learn a bunch of Italian dishes. Yes, I learned to cook Italian food in Hong Kong of all places!

Back then, I wasn't much of a cook at all. My method of making spaghetti was to brown some ground beef and pour Prego over it. If I was feeling especially adventurous, I might add some onions or mushrooms. If I was feeling particularly lazy, hot dogs did just fine! And don't even think about anything fancier than spaghetti.

Paolo, the owner of the store, always used a base of shredded carrots, diced onions, and diced celery for his tomato sauces. I thought this was such a great idea! You don't really even realize it's there, it gives the sauce more body, flavor and chunkiness, and you sneak in a lot more veggies! The ratio was always 2 parts of onion to 1 part of carrots and 1 part of celery.

Anyway, so given my new found discovery, this is now my recipe for spaghetti bolognese (or paperdelle in this case).

And I just found this wonderful event - Pasta Presto Nights! Even though I kinda want to wait to submit something fancier for my first entry, I'm impatient and want to participate now! Check out Once Upon A Feast on Friday to see the roundup, and if you want to join in on the fun, send your submissions to Ruth AT 4everykitchen DOT com.

- 2 parts diced onion
- 1 part of celery diced

- 1 part of carrots shredded

- 1 package of ground meat (beef is best, but turkey and chicken work too)
- 2 large cans of tomatoes or a jar of Prego

- 3 tbs of tomato paste

- red wine (0ptional)

- minced garlic

- oregano
- salt

- olive oil

- ground black pepper

- Heat some oil in a large pot
- Add the onions and sweat until mostly soft
- Add the minced garlic

- Add the carrots and celery and sweat until mostly soft
- Add some oregano and stir everything together

- Add the tomato paste and stir together

- While the veggies are going, brown the meat in a separate pan. Then add it at this point. Or, if you're lazy like me, go ahead and add the raw meat now and brown it the best you can with everything else in there too.
- Pour in the wine. This is optional but I like put in about a cup. - Pour in the cans of tomatoes. If you like whole tomatoes, crush or dice them first. - Salt to taste and grind some black pepper in. - Simmer until the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency. Add more tomato paste if thickening is a problem.

- Serve over pasta of your choice and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese!


What's Cookin Chicago said...

Bolognese is my go to pasta sauce! Yours looks great :)

That Girl said...

What a cool little shop you found!

Ruth Daniels said...

Cool story and great dish. Thanks for sharing with Presto pasta Nights. I do hope to see you back often.

BTW - I think it's a perfect dish to share for your first.