Ragù alla Bolognese is a traditional Italian meat sauce that is typically served with tagliatelle pasta. Although there are many varied recipes, it is authentically made with a soffrito of carrots, onions and celery, milk, wine and tomato paste, simmered for several hours to create a complex sauce. In the US, a bolognese sauce is characterized by the mere fact that it contains meat. We often serve it over spaghetti, while Italians opt for a thicker flat type of pasta.
My version of this recipe is far from traditional. While I did incorporate a lot of the ingredients that would be found in an Italian ragù, I truly made it my own with lots of fresh vegetables and seasonings. The base of the sauce is a melange of pureed peppers and garlic, which really gives the bolognese a kick. Instead of beginning with a mirepoix, I added shaved zucchini and summer squash to add texture and a nutritional boost. I actually chose to use spaghetti because that’s what I had on hand, but any long flat pasta would also be perfect with this sauce. I highly recommend Dreamfield’s spaghetti or linguini if you are looking for a healthier option. It’s higher in fiber, lower in carbs and actually tastes like regular pasta. The touch of brown sugar gives the sauce just the right amount of sweetness for my taste, but you can always cut back. I love the flavor that comes from the 4 different kinds of meat, but you can always work with what you have. This is my favorite bolognese sauce, but you can easily get creative to make it your own.

Ragu alla Bolognese
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6

This is my version of the popular Italian meat sauce. It’s not exactly traditional, but I altered it to my own flavor preferences. You can prepare it fairly quickly, but the longer you let the sauce simmer, the more complex the flavor becomes.
  • 1 cup roasted red bell pepper (such as Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 5 small organic Campari or Roma tomatoes (choose the ripest)
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 orange bell pepper, julienned
  • 6 oz. ground beef (I use 90% lean)
  • 4 oz. ground veal
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced proscuitto, finely chopped
  • 3 oz. good quality Canadian bacon
  • ½ cup Marsala wine
  • ½ cup beef stock or chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • oregano and italian seasoning to taste
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 zucchini, shaved
  • 1 summer squash, shaved
  • ¼ cup basil, chopped
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Asiago cheese
  • 1 lb. tagliatelle, spaghetti, fettucini, linguini or pappardelle

  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a blender, and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Heat large skillet, sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat and add oil. Saute onion for several minutes and then add bell pepper. Add proscuitto and Canadian bacon and cook for another minute. Add the ground meat (salt & pepper) to the pan and cook until you see very little pink. Drain some of the excess fat from the pan.
  3. Add the Marsala wine and cook down for 1 minute. Stir in the beef broth, brown sugar and finally the tomato mixture. Add in the shaved vegetables, chopped basil, oregano and Italian Seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in some grated cheese. Let simmer for 15 minutes – 2 hours. The longer the sauce simmers the more tender the meat will become.
  4. Serve over al dente pasta garnished with grated cheese and fresh basil.

Ragu alla Bolognese | Au Bon Gouter

Ragu alla Bolognese | Au Bon Gouter

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