A simple yet rich & robust Bolognaise style meat sauce for pasta. This is one of Le Chef’s all time favorite meals. He loves it so much that it has become our Sunday night ritual. I use this same sauce as a base for many of my favorite dishes including Eggplant Lasagna.
1 lb Ground beef ( as lean as possible and Organic if you can get it)
1 handful of mushrooms ( button or Cremini)
1/2 an onion
2 cloves garlic
Handful of Kalamata olives ( this is to taste, add as many, or as few as you like)
Basil ( same as the olives, I add a lot!)
1 teaspoon Chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
Ground Pepper (3 turns of the pepper mill)
1/2 Cup red wine (this can be omitted if you are cooking for kids)
1 28 oz can of Crushed tomatoes
Dice the onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms. I place the onions & garlic together in one little bowl and the carrots in another.
Slice the olives ( for Kalamata olives I slice them length wise, I like to leave them in fleshy chunks!)
“Chiffonade” the basil. (Take all the leaves, place them one on top of each other and roll them up like a burrito. You can then slice them lengthwise and it makes nice thin strips of basil.)
Heat your sauce pan on medium high and add some olive oil to the pan.
When the oil has heated, but is not too hot, add the onions and garlic. Stir frequently until they start to become translucent – you do not want them to burn.
Add in the ground beef. I use my spoon to separate the chunks , ensuring all the while that the onions and garlic do not burn. Let the meat brown, stirring frequently. This is when I add salt, ground pepper and some chili flakes. When the meat has started to cook through and the pan starts to sizzle again, add in a half cup of red wine. This is my favorite part! The smell is AMAZING! Make sure to use a spatula and scrape up the browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pan. This is where all the flavor is!
Now I add in the carrots, the olives and only half of the basil. Then I add my crushed tomatoes and the mushrooms. I fold in everything together.
Reduce the heat to a medium low, cover & let simmer for 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes or so.
Now you can take out a stockpot of water to boil for your pasta. I add a tablespoon of salt to the water because, as my Sardinian friend, Roberta, once told me, the water for pasta should be like the Mediterranean – salty!
Once your water has boiled, cook the pasta of your choice as per the specifications on the box and time it so that the pasta will be done at the same time as your sauce. Don’t worry if the sauce cooks longer, just add a spoonful of pasta water into the sauce if it starts to get too dry.
A few minutes before the sauce is done, add the rest of the basil that you chopped up earlier and mix it in.
Drain the pasta when it is cooked to your liking.
Now, here is where opinions differ. In a restaurant, a Chef would marry the sauce together with the pasta, mix it together in the sauce pan so that the sauce coats every inch of the pasta before serving, but I always have several meals on my mind so I want to make sure to have enough to freeze for another day’s quick meal. I like to portion out the pasta, using tongs so that I can get that sexy spaghetti swirl, sprinkle a bit of olive oil over the noodles so that they do not stick together and then add a very generous heap of sauce over the top. Before serving I add the cheese of choice and then a tiny sprig of basil if I am feeling fancy.