Pasta with Bolognese Sauce

A hearty Bolognese sauce has always been a family favorite on a cool autumn or cold winter day.  Traditionally I make it with both ground beef and ground pork, but sometimes I make it only with beef.  The classic recipe calls for tomato paste, but I sometimes just use the Italian San Marzano tomatoes if I do not have any in the house.  I also sometimes choose to finish the Bolognese in a 350 F oven by simply waiting until the sauce comes to a boil in a Dutch oven. Then I place it in the oven 2-2 1/2 hours.

I love Bolognese sauce served with tagliatelle, but fresh pasta is not something I typically make at home.  Rigatoni and paccheri work beautifully with it.  I like to make large batches of Bolognese and keep them in the freezer for last-minute quick pasta lunches or dinners.

Servings: 6


  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 medium celery stalk, cleaned and cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
  • 3 cups San Marzano canned tomatoes 
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • 1 pound of rigatoni or paccheri
  • ½ cup of grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano


  1. In a food processor, add the onion, carrot, and celery and mince everything together. (You can also choose to chop or shred everything by hand with a grater).
  2. Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onion, carrot, and celery mixture and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until your onion is translucent.
  3. Crumble in the ground beef and pork and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the meat is lightly browned and the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Pour in the wine and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, until the wine has evaporated. 
  5. Add the tomato paste and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, then add the canned San Marzano tomatoes, the bay leaves, and salt to taste.  
  6. Cook the sauce for 2-3 hours minimum. Make sure you add hot water as necessary to keep the meats and vegetables covered.  If you see a layer of oil floating at the top of the pot, you can remove it with a spoon or you can stir it back into the sauce.
  7. When you are ready to prepare the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the pasta.
  8. When the pasta is a little more than al dente, fish it out with a slotted spoon or spider and add it to the sauce. Stir so that the pasta is evenly coated.  Turn off the heat, add the grated cheese, and serve in shallow bowls.