I Made the ‘Weeknight Bolognese’ That Ina Garten Loves and Now I Love it Too

A weeknight bolognese that tastes like it simmered all Sunday; how easy is that?

Toh Horizontal Ina Garten's Weeknight Bolognese Gettyimages 470588312 Risa Lichtman For Taste Of Home Jvedit Risa Lichtman For Taste Of Home, Getty Images

What if I said you could have Nonna’s coveted all-day Sunday sauce in less than an hour’s work? It might be hard to believe, but if anyone can do it, it’s Ina Garten! If you’ve tried her cozy meat loaf, beef bourguignon or overnight mac and cheese, you know she’s a master at making comfort food feel extra achievable. And here’s another easy Ina classic to add to your repertoire: a weeknight bolognese that is quick, flavorful and such a big batch that you will probably even have leftovers for lunch.

What Makes It ‘Weeknight’ Bolognese?

A traditional bolognese sauce would require hours of simmering on a hot stove. The long and slow cooking helps to develop deep flavors and a thick sauce that will stick to the pasta. Ina’s version cuts the cooking time down substantially but retains all that delicious flavor. You could make this after work and have it ready right in time for dinner.

How to Make Ina Garten’s Weeknight Bolognese

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Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound lean ground sirloin

4 teaspoons (4 cloves) minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup and 1/4 cup dry red wine, divided

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Pepper, to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Step 1: Brown the meat

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Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and chop well with a wooden spoon, crumbling the meat as much as possible. Stop stirring and allow to sit undisturbed for several minutes to brown the meat. Turn the meat and chop into crumbles further, then let sit for several more minutes undisturbed to brown even more. Stir in the garlic, oregano and hot red pepper flakes and cook for one minute.

Step 2: Bring together the sauce

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Deglaze the pan by adding 1 cup red wine and then scraping up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper, and stir until combined. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil with a tablespoon of salt. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.

Step 3: Finish the sauce and combine

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Add the nutmeg, basil and cream to the thickened sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pasta with a slotted spoon or sieve, and add to the hot bolognese sauce. Cook for one minute, then add the remaining 1/4 cup of wine and some pasta water to thin out the sauce just slightly. Serve immediately with shaved parmesan and fresh basil.

How to Store Bolognese

Ina’s weeknight bolognese can be stored for up to a week in the fridge. No need to freeze this because it will probably be gone before you know it! You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop. Just add a dash of water to thin the sauce out.

Here’s What I Thought

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Like most of Ina’s other favorite foods, I am a big fan of her weeknight bolognese! I appreciate how easily it comes together, and it truly is as tasty as it seems. If you want to make it even creamier, you can always add a knob of butter toward the end of cooking the sauce, just before adding the pasta.

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Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the owner/chef of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal foods, providing takeaway all around Portland. She has previously published poems in Poetica Magazine, the anthology The Art of Bicycling, Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature, and The Dos Passos Review. She lives with her wife Jamie, their dog Isaac, and their cat Sylvia. Follow her at @risaexpizza, or find her delicious food offerings on @lepagefoodanddrinks.