Bucatini Bolognese is one of my favorite hearty italian pasta dinners. It’s rich and savory and full of flavor – and you can make this robust sauce in less than an hour. I like to top it with herby whipped ricotta but that is totally optional!
If you follow me on instagram, you’ve probably noticed how I’ve been doing nightly dinner tutorials. To me, cooking is one of the only things that calms me down during all this craziness.
And as I’m sharing and getting feedback, I’m learning that a lot of you feel the same way.
It’s my hope that these daily dinner videos not only inspire you to make tasty food during the quarantine, but to also try new things and develop new staples.
To be honest, I don’t really plan anything out. I kind of just go for it. I think this goes to show just how easy and adjustable cooking is.
As you might be able to tell, some of the recipes are completely free-styled while others are classics that I’ve just never thought to add to the blog.
Last week when I was deciding what to make, I realized that I that I had everything to make one of my favorite dishes – bucatini bolognese!
And since I had lots of herbs to use up and a tiny bit of ricotta that was just sitting there, i decided to make a quick and easy cheesy topping that was full of flavor!
So that’s how this easy dinner was born.
In under an hour, you can have a rich, decadent and delicious Italian meat sauce that’ll stick to your ribs!
To me, it’s the perfect quarantine dinner. It’s comforting, hearty and easy… and the leftovers are even better the next day!
It’ll also give you an excuse to open up a bottle of wine, which is pretty much a win-win these days!
Ingredients – what you’ll need
- yellow onion
- olive oil
- red pepper flakes
- garlic cloves
- ground beef, grassfed is best
- tomato paste
- red wine
- a large can of crushed tomatoes
- bucatini pasta – DeLallo makes my favorite one!
- salted butter
- heavy cream if desired
How to make bolognese sauce
Making bolognese sauce is one of those skills that never goes away. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it!
The first thing you’ll want to do is dice your carrots and onions to the same size and texture so that they cook evenly with one another.
Add them with some olive oil, red pepper flakes and salt to a heavy bottomed pan and turn the heat to medium. I recommend using a pot like this!
Once the veggies start to caramelize, add the garlic and stir it around for 1 minute.
Next, scoot the veggies over to the side and add your meat. Season with more salt and let it begin to brown and caramelize. Break it up into the vegetables and continue to cook.
At this point, you’ll want to add your tomato paste. Let it soak up and darken.
Pour some red wine into the pot to deglaze the stuck-on bits with a wooden spatula. I used a Pinot Noir but any tasty drinking wine will do!
After the bits are all scraped up and reincorporated into the sauce, it’s time to add the can of crushed tomatoes. I like to add a little water to the can to make sure I get every last drop of tomato goodness.
Now put the lid on the sauce let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through – making sure that the bottom isn’t sticking or burning. If it is, turn the heat down to medium-low.
When the sauce has reduced and is thick and chunky, it’s time to finish with some salty butter, heavy cream (if you’d like!) and grated hard aged cheese like parmesan, pecorino or grana padano.
With the heat on medium low, stir in the al dente pasta and season with salt and pepper if needed.
How to make herb whipped ricotta
I love to add herb whipped ricotta to pasta as a bright and flavorful finish.
It’s also a great way to gussy up some store bought ricotta that doesn’t have much taste.
To make it, all you have to do is mix together some ricotta cheese with olive oil, equal parts chopped basil and parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic paste.
Mix it together and season with salt and pepper.
How to make it without beef
If you don’t eat beef or are a vegetarian but still want to enjoy this decadently rich red sauce, then I’ve got you covered!
To skip the beef, you could easily replace it with 1 pound of ground pork, turkey, or chicken. The recipe will stay exactly the same.
However if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll want to leave out the meat completely. Instead of adding the beef, you’ll want to add 3 cups of finely diced mushrooms with an extra 3 tbsp of olive oil. Before adding the tomato paste, you’ll just want to make sure that the mushrooms are caramelized and cooked through before doing so.
What to pair it with
If I were making this for a big Italian feast, I would totally pair this bucatini bolognese with some black truffle stuffed brie to start. Then I’d make a giant bowl citrus kale salad and these parmesan tossed roasted brussel sprouts and asparagus to serve it with. For dessert, I’d do this flourless chocolate cake with fresh raspberries.
Oh! And if you’ve got leftovers, I highly recommend making this bolognese grilled cheese — it’s like an italian sloppy joe!
Save this bucatini bolognese recipe for later
If you’d like to save this bucatini bolognese recipe for later, then feel free to pin it below! I love pinterest and would so stoked if you’d follow me for more tasty goodness!
Easy Bucatini Bolognese with Garlic Herb Whipped Ricotta
For the Bolognese
- 1 lb bucatini pasta
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 3 large carrots diced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 5 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 lb ground beef grassfed is best
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 3 tbsp salted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream optional but delicious
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan divided
- salt and pepper
For the Ricotta
- 1 cup ricotta
- 2 tbsp basil minced
- 2 tbsp parsley minced
- 1/4 tsp garlic paste
- 1/2 lemon zest
- 1/2 lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the Bolognese
- Cook bucatini pasta according to the directions until it’s al dente. Strain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add onion, carrots, olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt and red pepper flakes to a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.
- Cook this mixture for 5-10 minutes or until the veggies are beginning to caramelize. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Using a spatula, push the veggies to the side and add the meat and another 1/4 tsp salt. Let the meat cook until it’s beginning to brown and caramelize. Use spatula to break it up and mix it into vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring halfway.
- Add the tomato paste and stir it into the mixture. Cook this for 2-3 minutes or until the paste starts to darken.
- Pour the wine over the meat mixture to delgaze the pan. Using the wooden spatula, scrape up all the little stuck-on bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Now add the can of crushed tomatoes, another 1.4 tsp salt and stir. Put the lid on and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes while making sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Once the sauce is finished, add the butter, the cream if you'd like, and half of the grated parmesan and stir. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Turn the heat to low and toss in the pasta. Serve with remaining parmesan cheese and the herby whipped ricotta (from below) on top.
For the Herby Whipped Ricotta
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes before using.