One of my very favorite people is on her way to visit me…my mom.  With my dad on his way to Big Ten Basketball Tournament, we get grandma for a few days.  My parents are both terrific cooks, and are best when they cook together.  I think when I got into cooking as a profession, they got more interested as well.  We ate very homemade and “from scratch” as kids, and as an adult, a home cooked meal at my parents is always a treat.

Tonight we’re having pasta night.  Bolognese, also called Ragu, is a thick, full bodied meat sauce from northern Italy’s Bologna region.  It is also great for  hiding a ton of vegetables with the help of a food processor, in a delicious and kid friendly sauce over pasta.  To me, pasta is always comfort food, and there is nothing more comforting than having your mom close by.


Recipe: Italian Sausage Bolognese


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 leaves of kale, stems removed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 1 lb ground Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1t Italian seasoning
  • 2 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes (or diced)
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 lb spaghetti (or any pasta)
  • Parmesan cheese to top


  1. Preheat a large sauce pot over medium heat and add oil
  2. In a food processor, pulse all vegetables until they are about pea size or smaller, add to oil and saute about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Brown ground sausage in the same pot, I push the veggies to one side and continue cooking them.
  4. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scrapping up any bits of flavor from the bottom with a wooden spoon. Let the wine cook out a few minutes.
  5. Add brown sugar and Italian seasoning.
  6. Add the canned tomatoes, can pulse in the food processor if they are too large.
  7. Let the sauce simmer 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  8. When ready to serve, cook spaghetti following package instructions.
  9. Top the pasta with the sauce and Parmesan cheese and serve.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s) Cooking time: 1 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Microformatting by hRecipe.

*Note…Try adding 1/2 cup heavy cream to the last 15 minutes of the sauce simmering.  Traditional bolognese has some cream or milk and, it’s delicious either way.  Give it a try if you want, you’ll get a pinker creamier version.

Italian Sausage Bolognese
Tagged on: