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Savory, saucy pasta shifts us into fall

There’s no sense in opening a jar of tomato sauce for a spaghetti dinner when fresh tomatoes are close at hand.

I had to remind myself of this fact, though, in planning the evening’s meal. Augmenting garden plum and cherry tomatoes with tomato paste makes a multilayered sauce that still signifies summer, although our menus are shifting with the cooler weather.

I prefer to confine the meal’s meat to meatballs, of which a few can be frozen for later. Otherwise, this quick Bolognese, courtesy of Tribune News Service, would please kids and adults alike. Who doesn’t love a plate of savory, saucy pasta after a day of school and work?

Similar to my instructions for incorporating fresh tomatoes, this recipe calls for simmering them in some red wine.

Tribune News Service photo

Pasta With Quick Bolognese

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, peeled and diced

1/4 cup chopped cutting celery

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 pound 80/20 ground beef

1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Red pepper flakes

2 cups cherry tomatoes

1 or 2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 pound pasta

Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Chopped parsley or basil, for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot; cook for 1 minute.

Add the beef and sausage; cook, breaking meat up with a fork or spoon, until it is no longer pink, for about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the garlic to pot and season generously with the salt and pepper. If you like, add a pinch of two of red pepper flakes; stir to combine.

Stir in the cherry tomatoes, tomato paste and red wine. Cook on medium heat until tomatoes break down and sauce starts to thicken, for about 15 to 20 minutes. (May use a potato masher to help tomatoes along.)

Meanwhile, add the pasta to boiling water and cook until tender but still firm. Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water for thinning sauce.

Taste Bolognese and season with additional salt, pepper or red pepper flakes, if necessary. Thin with reserved pasta water if it's too thick.

Serve pasta sauce on top of cooked pasta, garnished with the grated Parmesan and chopped parsley or basil.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.