One of my very best friends is on her way to visit me for a few days…yes, its my mom.  With my dad (lucky guy) off to the Big Ten Basketball Tournament in Indiana, my mom is free to come visit her grandson and hang out with us.  My mom and dad 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.  So to return the love, we are having pasta night.  Bolognese, also called Ragu, is a thick, full bodied meat sauce from northern Italy’s Bologna region.  I use it to hide a ton of vegetables and serve it over spaghetti topped with Parmesan cheese.  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
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 t salt
  • 10 cranks fresh black pepper
  • 1 lb ground Italian Sausage (or beef or combination)
  • 1/2 c red wine
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 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, add to oil and saute 7 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 bay leaf
  6. Add the canned tomatoes
  7. Let the sauce simmer 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally
  8. When ready to serve, cook spaghetti by the 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.

As we were eating I realized I had planned to add 1/2 cup of half & half to the sauce just before serving and I forgot!  Traditional bolognese has some cream or milk and I’m sure it would have been good, but it was delicious anyway.  Give it a try if you want, I might with the leftovers.

Italian Sausage Bolognese
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