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
  • 2 or 3 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. In a food processor, pulse all vegetables (except garlic) until they are about pea size or smaller.
  2. Preheat a large sauce pot over medium heat and begin to brown the  sausage.
  3. Break up sausage with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks and move it to the side of the pot.  Add the veggies to the other side and cook them in the fat from the sausage, adding a bit of olive oil if needed.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Add brown sugar and Italian seasoning.
  7. Add the canned tomatoes, can pulse in the food processor if they are too large.  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.
  8. Let the sauce simmer 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  9. When ready to serve, cook pasta following package instructions.
  10. Top the pasta with the sauce and Parmesan cheese and serve.
  11. Extra sauce can be frozen.

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

Number of servings (yield): 8

Microformatting by hRecipe.

Italian Sausage Bolognese
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