Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Healthier Bolognese Sauce

Eating healthy does not mean bland and boring.  If I had to eat grilled chicken and steamed veggies everyday I would cry...literally bawl into my hands.  Actually, I just wouldn't do it!  I'm a foodie at heart.  I love complex flavors, textures, and ingredients - but I NEED simple recipes to incorporate into my busy life.

Ever had pasta bolognese? Its one of my hubby's favorite Italian dishes to order out.  At most restaurants I've been to, it's greasy and heavy (although quite delicious) and my stomach doesn't always  like that.  So I went on a quest to make a healthier version to enjoy in my home, even while eating clean.  The key is to drain your ground beef and also let it sit on some paper towels to soak up the extra fat.  The other secret???  An entire bottle of red wine!!!  Yup, that's full bottle.  It cooks down and adds so much flavor.  And of course you'll need an extra glass (or two) to drink while you enjoy your masterpiece. :) 

So please give this recipe a try today!  I think you will love it!!!

Happy Cooking!

Healthier Pasta Bolognese
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1lb 90% lean ground beef
1 can tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, blended
1 bottle red wine
Salt & pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Start off with browning your beef in a large pot (I use my dutch oven) over medium heat.  Cook until no longer pink.   Drain it on a large plate lined with several paper towels. 
Then we need to start building the sauce by sauteing the vegetables.  Saute the onion, carrots, and celery until translucent.  Then add the garlic and cook only until fragrant.  Do not burn the can happen super fast.  So be careful. 

Next, add the can of tomato paste and allow that to cook a little.  It should start to develop a darker color and deep colors mean rich flavors in the end.  Yummy!

Now you can add the bottle of wine and deglaze the pan (scrape up all the yummy brown bit stuck on the bottom of the pan).  Then add your diced tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper, and beef back in to the pot. 

Now you have to be patient and allow this to cook down over time...I'm talking 2-4 hours.  The more patient you are, the better the flavor will be.  Here is what it looks like after 3 hours on medium -low heat. 

After 3 hours?  A nice, thick, rich, and hearty meat sauce.  Delicious!!!  If your sauce starts to get too thick, add a little water and put the cover on the pot. 
Now the pasta...for a restaurant quality pasta dish, DO NOT OVER COOK THE PASTA!!!  You are better off with aldente pasta and finishing it in the sauce, just like they would at your favorite Italian spot. 

Cook the pasta in very salty water according to the package (if it doesn't give you a time for aldente then cook it 1-2 minutes under the time listed).   Please reserve 1-2 cups of the pasta water before you drain it...this helps to bring the dish all together. 

So here we go - back to our beautiful sauce...turn the heat to low.  We will finish the pasta off in the sauce. 
Add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the sauce.  Toss it together and add more pasta water if necessary until its to a consistency that you like (and this is personal preference - please note that the pasta absorbs more sauce and liquid as it sits so keep that pasta water around just in case). 

Yummy!!!  Looks so good!  Serve with some parmesan cheese and a large salad. 

I want to eat some right now...


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