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.
Italian Sausage Bolognese
- ½ to 1 lb ground Italian Sausage
- 1 t olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1-2 carrots
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 red bell pepper (or 1 zucchini)
- 2 leaves kale stems removed
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 t kosher salt
- 6 grinds fresh black pepper
- ½ c red wine optional
- 1 T brown sugar
- 1 t Italian seasoning or handful of fresh herbs
- 2 to 3 28oz cans whole peeled tomatoes (or diced)
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 1 lb spaghetti or any pasta
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- Preheat a large sauce pot over medium heat and begin to brown the sausage. Break up sausage with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks and move it to the side of the pot.
- In a food processor, pulse all vegetables (except garlic) until they are about pea size or smaller.
- Add the veggies to the other side next to the sausage and saute them in the fat from the sausage, adding a bit of olive oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook until the sausage is brown and the veggies are sauteed. Pulse the garlic in the food processor until minced and add to the pot.
- 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.
- Add brown sugar and Italian seasoning.
- Add the canned tomatoes, pulse in the food processor to desired consistency (you can use 2 or 3 cans, depending on how many people you want to feed and whether you want leftovers). Fill the tomato paste can with water and use it to rinse all the cans and food processor and then add the tomatoey water to the sauce.
- Let the sauce simmer on low 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- When ready to serve, cook pasta following package instructions. Top the pasta with the sauce and Parmesan cheese and serve. Extra sauce can be frozen.