This comforting spaghetti bolognese with vegetables is a delicious way to sneak in more veggies! Allow a food processor to handle the chopping, making meal prep even easier.
Let's delve into the world of bolognese, shall we? There are endless variations used around the world and everyone has an opinion on what makes the best sauce. Cream, pancetta, red wine, white wine, tomatoes, no tomatoes - the options are overwhelming!
I prefer to keep things simple with just all-natural, basic ingredients and lots of vegetables. Because, let's face it, who wants to eat a big bowl of pasta without getting some nutrients in there?
Patience is the key when making a bolognese recipe. If you have time to let it simmer and cook low and slow for 3 hours or longer and you'll be rewarded with a sauce that's smoother and richer in both texture and flavor. Trust me, it's worth the wait.
What is bolognese?
Bolognese is this meaty spaghetti sauce that hails from the city of Bologna, Italy. Basically, you mix together ground beef and pork with finely chopped veggies like onions, celery, and carrots, then throw in some crushed tomatoes.
And what do you do with this glorious concoction? You pour it all over some pasta like spaghetti or tagliatelle, and bam, you've got yourself a classic Italian comfort food that'll knock your socks off!
- OLIVE OIL.
- VEGETABLES. yellow onion, carrots, celery, crimini mushrooms (also known as baby bella)
- SAN MARZANO canned tomatoes. San Marzano canned tomatoes are always perfectly ripe and have a thick flesh perfect for Italian sauces. To ensure you are getting authentic San Marzano tomatoes look for "DOP" on the label. Otherwise, you use your favorite tomato sauce, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes or even fresh tomatoes.
- SEASONING. sea salt, red pepper flakes, cracked black pepper.
- HERBS. oregano, thyme and rosemary.
- BAY LEAVES.
- TOMATO PASTE. thickens and deepens the flavor.
- GROUND BEEF. or 50% ground beef 50% ground pork. Add in some diced pancetta if you're feeling wild.
- WINE. Pino Grigio (preferred), Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pino Noir, or Chianti. Red wines will have a bolder impact on the flavor.
- SPAGHETTI. typically served with al dente pappardelle, tagliatelle, fettuccine, or rigatoni. My favorite gluten free pasta is Jovial tagliatelle, I'd choose it over any pasta.
- FRESH BASIL.
How to make it
Roughly chop the onion, mushrooms, celery, and carrots into similar sized pieces. Pulse them together in a food processor or super finely chop them by hand. The food processor helps create a smoother sauce.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the veggie mince and salt, cooking until they start to sweat. Stir in tomato paste and ground meat, cooking for 7 minutes or until lightly brown.
Add wine and cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat until mostly absorbed. Crush or puree tomatoes and add them with rosemary, thyme, oregano, and bay leaf to the pot.
To cook the meat sauce, bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow it to simmer for at least 30 minutes, but ideally 2.5-3 hours for the best flavor. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon and add ¼ cup of water at a time as needed.
Boil a large pot of salted water and cook pasta. Serve sauce over cooked pasta and garnish with basil, parmesan (or homemade dairy free parmesan) and black pepper.
- different meats: you can use leaner ground meat (ground turkey or ground chicken ) the flavor will just be a little different. or use ground bison, venison, pork or a combination!
- add more veggies: chop up your favorite veggies in the food processor and add them into the vegetable sauté. I love adding whatever is in my fridge, most recently it was green beans & red bell peppers.
- vegetable "noodles": create vegetable spaghetti by spiraling zucchini into zoodles or by roasting spaghetti squash.
- add garlic: traditional bolognese doesn't use garlic but sometimes I like to add some minced garlic or garlic powder
- make it vegan: substitute the ground meat with 2 cups of minced walnuts. Equally as delicious!
Save some pasta water! The salty, starchy water adds flavor, thickens the sauce, prevents it drying out, and helps glue the pasta and sauce together. Use it as needed when adding the pasta or reheating leftovers.
- Store: Wait until the sauce is room temperature before storing in an airtight container or freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Freezer Tip: You may want to freeze in individual portions unless you plan to reheat all at once.
- Thaw: Thaw overnight in the fridge or in a bowl of ice water for a few hours.
- Reheat: Reheat over low heat on stovetop.
Yes, bolognese sauce can partially be made in a slow cooker. You'll still need to make the pasta sauce on the stovetop because the slow cooker will not brown the meat or cook off the alcohol in the wine. Once the sauce is ready to simmer, add it to the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
A traditional bolognese sauce recipe typically uses a white wine with a high acidity, such as Pino Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Although a dry red wine like Merlot, Pino Noir, or Chianti can also be utilized, it may have a greater impact on the flavor profile compared to the white wine.
The best texture and flavor of bolognese is dependent on the sauce simmering together for at least 2.5 hours.
Some extra dinners to enjoy!
I hope you love this spaghetti bolognese with vegetables! If you make it I'd love if you could leave a comment and rating so I know how it turned out!
Spaghetti Bolognese with Vegetables
- Sauce pot to boil pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 large carrots
- 2 stalks celery stalks
- 8 ounces baby bella / crimini mushrooms
- 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano 1 sprig = ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme 1 sprig = ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary 1 sprig = ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 bay leaf optional
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pound ground beef or 50% ground beef 50% ground pork
- 28 ounces San Marzano canned tomatoes hand crushed
- 1 cup wine Pino Grigio (preferred), Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Pino Noir, or Chianti.
- 12 ounces spaghetti use your favorite regular or gluten free pasta. typically served with pappardelle, tagliatelle, fettuccine, or rigatoni.
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper for serving
- 1 handful fresh basil for serving
- Prep veggies: Start by roughly chopping the onion, mushrooms, carrots, and celery into large chunks of roughly the same size. Next, you have two options for achieving a finely chopped consistency: either use a food processor to pulse the vegetables together or chop them finely by hand.
- Create the base: Place a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Once heated, add the vegetables and salt, and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to sweat.
- Add meat and tomato paste: Add the tomato paste and ground meat to the pot, stirring occasionally. Stir well and cook for 7 minutes or until the meat is lightly brown.
- Add wine: Add wine and continue cooking on medium heat for ~10 minutes or until most of the wine is absorbed.
- Add remaining ingredients & simmer: You can either crush the tomatoes by hand or puree them. Add the tomatoes along with the rosemary, thyme, oregano, and bay leaf to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for at least 30 minutes. For a smoother texture and integrated flavors, extend the simmer time to 2.5-3 hours if possible. Add ¼ cup of water at a time if needed to prevent the mixture from drying out while simmering.
- Serve: Remove the herb branches and bay leaf. Serve the bolognese over your favorite pasta, cooked al dente in salted water. Top with sliced basil, cracked black pepper and parmesan (or homemade dairy free parmesan linked below). Enjoy!
- Storage: Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Dairy free Parmesan recipe
- Obsessed with this Jovial gluten free tagliatelle pasta
- Create an herb bundle to easily remove herb branches. Sometimes I tie together with a parsley or thyme stem if I don't have kitchen twine.