Main Dishes


Like my Chicken au Champagne recipe, we’ve been eating A LOT of bolognese this winter as I’ve been working to perfect the recipe…really just an excuse to eat more bolognese! My obsession started with one of the first blizzards we had in Boston. I mean, pasta with bolognese  is a pretty perfect blizzard meal. I was determined to make a healthier version and am thrilled with where I ended up…

Bolognese Ingredients

What You Need:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • 5 strips of turkey bacon
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion
  • 20 oz can crushed tomatoes (unsalted)
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup fat free milk (I used almond)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 t crushed bay leaves
  • Whole wheat or quinoa pasta
  • Grated parm cheese

What You Do:

1) I like to get all the chopping out of the way first so each ingredient is ready as I need it. Finely dice the carrots, celery and onion. I recommend using a food processor, it will take just seconds.

Next, dice the bacon. To do this quickly, I stack the slices on top of one another, cut thin strips lengthwise and then cut in thin rows width wise.

carrots and turkey bacon

2) Brown the ground meat then set aside on a paper towel lined dish. Here, I’ve used 95% lean ground beef. I’ve also tried lean ground turkey, chicken and lamb…all have tasted great.

In the same pan, cook the bacon pieces. Once they’re on the verge of being crispy, set aside with the cooked meat.

ground beef

3) Again in the same pan, toss in the diced carrots, celery and onion and cook over medium/low heat for 7-8 minutes.

Add the diced garlic and cook another 3 minutes.


4) Add the meat, bacon and wine to the pan with the sauteed carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Right after adding the wine, scrape the pan to loosen any bits sticking to the bottom. Heat together until wine is practically reduced.

Once the wine has reduced, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, milk, crushed red pepper and bay leaves. Mix together well and you’ll have something that looks like the picture below.

Leave this amazing-ness over low heat, partially covered for 40 minutes. Stir every now and then.

When about 10 minutes are left, boil your pasta so it’s ready at the same time as the bolognese. I like whole wheat linguini and my husband likes quinoa pasta, so we make both.

beef bolognese

5) Throw some pasta in your plate, top with the bolognese and sprinkle with some parm cheese.

beef bolognese recipe II

I really can’t even describe how delicious this is!

beef bolognese recipe III

The flavor is amazing, with a little bit of a kick from the crushed red pepper flakes. Slice up a baguette to scoop up the extra sauce, pour a glass of red wine and you have a cozy winter meal. And, for a bolognese, this is pretty healthy.

I have a few weeks of winter left to enjoy this before retiring for the summer!

Recipe Tips:

  • This tastes even better after the flavors have sat together overnight. You can make a day in advance and just boil pasta and reheat the sauce when you’re ready to eat. Also freezes well.
  • The type of red wine you use can impact flavor. I tend to use what I have around and found that I liked the flavor a Malbec added.
  • There’s no need to add salt, so skip it. The turkey bacon contains salt and is plenty for the entire dish. I make sure to use unsalted tomatoes to keep sodium as low as possible.

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