Better than having a V-8, 8 veggie Bolognese

July 24th 2013

I don’t know how many times I hear or see folks rushing over to their local Italian chain restaurant to pay way too much to eat microwaved pasta that is easily replicated (or made better) at home for a much more modest price tag, not only in price but in quality ingredients. Let’s face it, Italian food isn’t the most health conscious but it is one of the most popular genres when dining out. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of amazing places to eat Italian that are totally worth it, but if you want spaghetti and meat sauce, it is a great thing to make at home from scratch, not to mention it is ridiculously easy to sneak loads of healthy veggies in and no one notices….I can’t really express the amount of joy I feel as I watch my six year old munching noodles with sauce on her face, she has no idea that she is eating 8 veggies 4 of which she normally won’t touch. So here is a great and fast Bolognese for anytime, this makes a big batch so you can split it and use the other half in a lasagna to freeze or even a topping for easy French bread pizza. So toss out the jar of sugar laden spaghetti sauce and try this!
You will need:
1 lb of ground meat, you choose, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, whatever your heart desires.
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib o’ celery, diced
1 cup crimini mushrooms or button, or whatever you like, diced
1 cup eggplant, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 6oz can tomato paste (full of lycopene, google those health benefits)
½ cup dry wine, I use pinot grigio, but you could use chianti
1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp each fresh basil and flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
Whatever pasta, cous cous, quinoa, rice noodles, spaghetti squash that you want as a base for this yummy witches’ brew of yum.
In a large dutch oven (I use a le creuset) over medium heat brown your meat, you may need a bit of olive oil to start it, especially if it is lean. Drain if necessary, add onion and garlic, cook till onions are translucent about 7 minutes, add carrot, celery, eggplant, sauté 5 minutes, add zucchini, both tomato products, wine, and Italian seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes, add a bit of water if it is too thick. Turn heat down to low and cook an additional 20 minutes, at that point you can blend to get a smooth texture, I use a hand held blender, but you can put have of your sauce in a blender and pulse a few times. That is optional, I do it to make a smooth consistency, but I don’t blend the whole mixture, I want some texture, after this last step I like to add the fresh herbs and a bit of salt and pepper. Use sauce to top whatever you like, on more eggplant, or whole wheat pasta, or ravioli, the choice is yours, top with parmesano reggiano or pecorino romano and dig it……you won’t ever need to order it out again!