Late Summer Bolognese

"Late Summer" is just as much a time of year as it is a state of mind, and it's one of my favorite places to be. This recipe is a celebration of end-of-summer tomato abundance flirting with fall-forward warming spices. In other words, it's a staple on my dinner table in September and early October.


Be warned: this is by no means a traditional bolognese (for that, most of you know I use this perfect Andy Baraghani recipe). But what it lacks in classic bolognese ingredients and cooking methods, (like 4 hours on the stovetop) it gains intense flavors and much shorter preparation time. It's easy, colorful, and delicious just like "Late Summer" herself.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED:


Handful of pancetta or thick sliced bacon, cubed

½ of an onion, finely chopped

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed Salt

Pepper

Red Pepper flakes

2 lbs. ground beef*

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 28 oz. can crushed tomato

4 cups whole cherry, grape or any small tomato

2 Bay leaves

1 6 oz. can of tomato paste

A heaping handful of fresh basil, torn into pieces


1 lb pasta, preferably an astonishingly thick noodle

Grated parmesan cheese


WHAT YOU'LL DO:

Add a handful of pancetta or thick cut bacon chopped into cubes to your sauce pan and cook over medium until it's nice and brown and has released a good amount of grease into the pan.


To the pan, add 8 crushed garlic cloves, the chopped onion, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring as you go. You want your onions and garlic to get soft, browned, and translucent. It should smell amazing, too.


Add 2 lbs. ground beef, 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons of nutmeg. Continue to cook over medium, using your spoon to break up the meat as it cooks and incorporate the spices throughout. Sauté until your meat is mostly cooked through with just a hint of pink.


Now pour in the 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (pureéd is also good here) and stir over medium heat until combined into the meat. Add about 4 cups of cherry, grape, or any small potato to the pan. Stir to incorporate the tomatoes into the meat sauce, and then bury 2 bay leaves into the sauce.


Cover your pan and simmer over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes to gently stew the tomatoes. You can stir here and there as you check on the sauce, but don't go crazy.


After 15-20 minutes, your tomatoes should be gently stewed but still in tact. Some may even still be firm, which I like because the tomatoes still end up tasting fresh and juicy when served.


The tomatoes have done quite a bit of sweating, so we are going to add a 6 oz. can of tomato paste to thicken our sauce back up. Stir to incorporate the paste into the sauce as you continue to cook over medium.


The sauce should be nice and thick now, and the flavors should be settled. Have a taste and add more spices to shift the flavors to your taste. At the very end, add a heaping handful of fresh torn basil leaves into the sauce and mix to combine. Serve your bolognese over pasta (preferably a nice thick noodle to hold the sauce) and sprinkle with grated parmesan.


Bolognese can be made ahead and reheated before serving over pasta. Just like most tomato-based sauces, the flavors will only intensify over time.


Enjoy!


*Any combination of ground meat would work here, feel free to play around with your favorites.


Make it step-by-step with me below!

LET'S DO THIS ONE STEP AT A TIME:

It's late summer...there are tomatoes everywhere!

1. Add a handful of pancetta or thick cut bacon chopped into cubes to your sauce pan and cook over medium.

2. Cook your pancetta until it is nice and brown and has released a good amount of grease into the pan.

3. To the pan, add 8 crushed garlic cloves, your chopped onion, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring as you go.

4. You want your onions and garlic to get soft, browned and translucent. It should smell amazing, too.

5. To the pan, add 2 lbs. ground beef, 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons of nutmeg. Continue to cook over medium, using your spoon to break up the meat as it cooks and incorporate the spices throughout.

6. Sauté until your meat is mostly cooked through with just a hint of pink.

7. Add the 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (pureéd is also good here) and stir over medium heat until combined into the meat.

8. Add about 4 cups of cherry, grape or any small tomato to the pan.

9. Stir to incorporate the tomatoes into the meat sauce, and then bury 2 bay leaves into the sauce.

10. Cover your pan and simmer over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes to gently stew the tomatoes. You can stir here and there as you check on the sauce, but don't go crazy.

11. This is just about where you want your tomatoes - gently stewed but still together, some may even be firm still. I like this, because the tomatoes still end up tasting fresh and juicy when served.

12. As you can see, the tomatoes have done quite a bit of sweating, so we are going to add a 6 oz. can of tomato paste to thicken our source back up. Stir to incorporate the paste into the sauce as you continue to cook over medium.

13. The sauce should be nice and thick now, and the flavors should be settled. Have a taste and add more spices to shift the flavors to your taste.

14. At the very end, add a heaping handful of fresh torn basil leaves into the sauce. Mix to combine.

15. Serve your bolognese over pasta (preferably a nice thick noodle to hold the sauce) and sprinkle with grated parmesan.

16. Bolognese can be made ahead and reheated before serving over pasta. Just like most tomato-based sauces, the flavors will only intensify over time.


Enjoy!