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Bolognese sauce is my favorite lazy day recipe, it requires minimal preparation even though it spends hours on the stove. As the tomatoes and meat slowly simmer the flavors meld and intensify creating a “gravy” any Italian grandmother would approve of.
Growing up in the DC area in an Italian family Sunday dinner was an all day affair. We would show up to my grandparents house and the sweet perfume of garlic would smack you in the face like a familiar friend. My grandfather would wake up early Sunday to throw veal, beef and pork shanks into a giant pot with an obscene amount of olive oil to sauté along with carrots, onions and celery. By the time we arrived the sauce already had a 4-5 hour head start with hours of simmering still to go.
This recipe is a piece of cake compared to the Ragu my grandfather would make but it still has the same familiar flavors that I grew up with. One day I will put together a recipe for my grandfather's Gravy but for now this recipe will have to tide you over.
Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna Italy in the early 18th century. The sauce was originally known as ragu alla Bolognese. Bolognese Ragu has many similarities to its European French counterpart Ragout, a stew of veggies and meats reduced down. The rich tomato based meat sauce most commonly contains the trinity (carrots, onions and celery) along with a combination of beef and pork. Tomatoes and white wine round out the sauce and balance the richness. Some versions of this classic Italian sauce are finished with milk and Parmesan cheese.
Classically Bolognese is served over a broad noodle like Tagliatelle, Parpadelle or Fettuccine. There is also a version of Lasagna Bolognese with layers of the meat sauce, ricotta and noodles. Since this is a low carb version I chose to use Palmini Noodles made from hearts of Palm. I also made a version using spaghetti squash.
To prepare the Hearts of Palm I remove them from the can and rinse thoroughly for a minute under cold water. Then I sauté in a pan along with salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil. I then scoop out a small amount of the bolognese sauce and incorporate it with the palmini noodles. After plating the hearts of Palm noodles I then ladle a big scoop of the Bolognese over the top then garnish with a Pecorino Romano cheese and parsley or scallions.
To prepare with spaghetti squash split the squash in half and remove the seeds and any stringy stuff inside. Drizzle olive oil in the cavity then season with salt and pepper. Place the spaghetti squash flesh side down and bake at 400 degrees F. For about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know the spaghetti squash is done if you can press down on the top outer skin and it feels tender. Turn the squash back onto it’s skin and use a fork to fluff out the spaghetti strands in the squash. Top with a big ladle of Bolognese sauce, Pecorino Romano and parsley.
In my opinion there’s only one type of tomato to use for sauce and that’s the San Marzano Tomatoes. They are similar to Roma tomatoes but are thinner and more pointed in shape and contain less seeds. They have a sweeter less acidic taste making them perfect for sauces. San Marzano tomatoes are grown in a warm climate in soil rich in volcanic ash in the shadows of Mount Vesuvius. I buy the whole peeled tomatoes and squash them in my hands, breaking them up before adding to the pot. You could use a hand mill to mash the tomatoes but doing it by hand is traditional and it’s how I was taught as a kid.
Take your time, there’s no rush on this sauce. It only gets better with time. If the sauce seems to watery after 3 hours then just keep simmering. The Bolognese will tell you when it’s done. If you think it’s too thick you can just stir in a little extra beef broth l.
Don’t let the sauce come to a boil. You can simmer this sauce but never bring the sauce to a rolling boil or you run the risk of burning the sauce giving it a bitter taste. If the sauce is getting too hot simply turn off the heat and put a lid on it. Walk away for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and begin stirring over low heat. You can repeat this process over and over.
This Recipe for Low Carb Bolognese Sauce contains affiliate Links. I receive income from qualifying purchases.
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