Weeknight Bolognese -Dairy-Free
This is hands down my GO-TO bolognese! It’s seriously the perfect and tastiest bolognese for those busy weeknights, as it takes under 45 minutes start to finish, but the sauce tastes like a sauce that’s been cooking on your stove top all day, not for just 30 minutes.
This is a great pasta to serve up if you’re entertaining friends because it feeds a crowd, especially if you pair the pasta with some crispy garlic bread and or a caesar salad, kale salad or arugula salad.
The original recipe called for heavy cream and parmesan, but since I’m dairy-free, I’ve been making this sauce without the heavy cream and the additional added parmesan, and it’s the bomb! The kids haven’t even noticed the difference, and honestly, I think it tastes way better.
I love making this sauce ahead of time and bringing it up to Tahoe. All I have to do after skiing is come home, heat up the sauce, cook up the pasta and blend the two together. I’ll pair it with a salad tossed in my favorite lemon vinaigrette or some roasted broccoli. This is such an easy and satisfying post-skiing meal.
Weeknight Bolognese – Dairy-Free:
recipe adapted from Barefoot’s Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound grass fed beef – I typically use 85% lean, as we like the flavor that a little fat brings to the sauce
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic (roughly 5 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided – Make sure to use a robust and rich wine for this recipe, such as a cabernet, as the wine really brings out the flavors in the sauce
- 1 (28-ounce) BPA free can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, or a 24-ounce box of San Marzano tomatoes – the 24-ounce box is the same as using the 28-ounce can
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons (coarse or fine) sea salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 box of favorite traditional pasta, such as bowtie or orecchiette, brown rice pasta or spaghetti squash
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
Let’s prep the ingredients. Mince the garlic cloves, measure out 1 cup of wine, 2 tablespoon tomato paste, spices and salt.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef, teaspoon salt, and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat browns, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in the minced garlic, red pepper flakes and the dried oregano, making sure to rub the oregano between your fingers to release the oils, cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits.
Add the can or box of tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined.
Bring the sauce to a boil. Once the sauce comes to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, rinse and chop the basil, measure out 1/4 cup of red wine.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of pasta to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.
Let’s finish off the sauce.
Add the 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 cup chopped basil, and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Feel free to keep the sauce simmering on the stove for up to an hour, as it only enhances the flavors.
Be sure to taste the sauce and add more salt and a bit of wine to taste. I always add about 1/2 teaspoon more salt to the sauce, but this is all to individual taste.
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and pour it into either a large serving bowl, or the same pan that you cooked the pasta in. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss well to coat.
Serve the pasta up into individual bowls and top each with some fresh parmesan and basil.
Got leftovers: You can re-heat the pasta in a heavy-duty pan. Just add a splash or two of water, give the pasta a stir, set the heat to med-low, cover and let the pasta warm up. The water will evaporate, but will create moisture/steam for the pasta so it doesn’t dry out while re-heating. Make sure to give the pasta a stir every so often, so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Since I’ve been staying away from gluten, I’ve been serving this sauce up over spaghetti squash for Steve and I and regular pasta for the kiddos. I just keep the sauce in the pan, and then everyone tops it over their carb of choice. I sometimes also make a small batch of brown rice pasta and then add a bit of sauce to my bowl, and then mix the rest of the sauce with their regular pasta.
We love serving this pasta with my crispy garlic bread.
It also pairs perfectly with my kid friendly caesar salad.
If you love a classic meat sauce, then you have to try my meat lovers weeknight bolognese. It’s like having meatballs in your sauce without the labor of making meatballs. It’s also dairy-free to boot!