5 Ingredients or Fewer

Simple Bolognese

October 15, 2012
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 as a main course, baby for several days
Author Notes

This is not a true Bolognese (which traditionally contains milk), but a simpler version that's also quite versatile. You can use pretty much any type of ground meat as long as it is not too lean. Serve half of it for dinner, and save the rest for the baby! —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (I prefer 85% lean -- you can also use lamb, chicken, turkey or pork)
  • Pinch salt (optional)
  • 1 fat garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 28 ounces tetra pack or canned peeled tomatoes
  1. Heat a deep, heavy saucepan over a medium-high flame. When the pan is hot, add the oil, and then the meat and the salt if using. Brown the meat well, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Once the meat is browned, lower the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook for a minute or two, stirring frequently, until the garlic is fragrant and just starts to turn golden.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices and crush them gently with a potato masher or the back of your spoon. When the sauce starts to boil, turn the heat to low so it's just simmering, and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender, the tomatoes have broken down, and the sauce has thickened, about 2 hours (longer if you have the time). Let it cool slightly, and serve with pastine or couscous.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • tanteilonka
  • Lizzie 4208
    Lizzie 4208
  • Toots Mcgee
    Toots Mcgee
  • Scallionboy
  • Monica Strasen
    Monica Strasen

16 Reviews

tanteilonka August 14, 2017
Bland but perhaps that's because I used ground turkey (dark meat). I added bay leafs (2) and dried chili (1) plus and additional pinch of salt - perhaps more garlic would pump up the flavor.
Gisele73 December 23, 2015
This is very easy and my 7-year-old loved it. I'm already scheming to add olives or anchovy paste, but it was worth making according to the directions first--very nice and simple. I ended up adding about 1/2 tsp. of salt at the end.
ArielJoy July 23, 2015
There is really no need to buy canned tomatoes. Even if your brand is not canned in a BPA lined vessel you still don't know how the tomatoes were grown. Since we are currently in the month of July, and if you live in the northern hemisphere, it is quite easy to roast fresh tomatoes. Wash and core 5 to 6 tomatoes (any type of full-sized tomato will work), cut them in half, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle the cut side with fine sea salt, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, turn the tomatoes over and drizzle the skin side with olive oil, roast in oven at 450 degrees fahrenheit for about an hour (check after 45 minutes). When all the skins are wrinkled and the tomatoes smell like "heaven" turn off the oven and let them cool, in place, with the oven door open. After about 20 minutes use your fingers or a pair of tongs and lift off the skins. At this point you have over roasted tomatoes better than any you could ever buy in a can. If you want a smooth sauce, puree the entire contents of the baking sheet in a food processor. This makes the seeds disappear as they have been pureed, also.
sveva April 11, 2014
i love easier recipes. ingredients that will not break my purse..dont need elaborate recipes .. . thank you for sharing.
Lizzie 4. February 19, 2014
Having saved a terrific recipe while in Bologna I looked at this one and though...where's the milk and • Tomatoes are not a main ingredient. I bit of paste is all my recipe calls for.
Can't wait to make mine.
Ann February 19, 2014
Totally agree with the comment by Irishchef of 9 months ago. It is misleading to novice cooks as to
how a Bolognese sauce is made or tastes like. "Quick Meat Sauce" would have been a more appropriate name.

Rkelly3042 February 6, 2014
So much snow here I had no interest in going shopping after work. I made this good basic sauce and added roasted red peppers, basil, oregano and chili pepper since my husband likes it hot. Nice result-Food 52 really has helped my cooking confidence. Thank you!
Merrill S. February 6, 2014
So glad to hear it!
craig H. September 19, 2013
Eat up and enjoy.
irishchef May 19, 2013
I know you said this is "not a true Bolognese sauce" but when you call a classic dish by name & then change it; it is no longer that classic dish. Like if you add garlic to Alfredo sauce it is no longer Alfredo sauce. Please change the name. Classic Bolognese is so different and so much better than this. This sauce will give tasters the wrong impression. I don't mean to be a prude but being a chef I don't want to give people (especially one who may have never had the Delicious Classic Italian dish) a dish that may or may not taste like the Classic. Sorry, maybe try Mock Bolognese.
meh January 8, 2014
^ this
Toots M. April 30, 2013
just dont have kids
Scallionboy April 29, 2013
Exactly. Baby food.
Monica S. October 21, 2012
There are brands that are now canning tomatoes in BPA free cans, but you do have to do your homework to find them. Some brands also have tomatoes in glass containers.
Lucy October 16, 2012
Canned tomatoes are high in BPA, which is banned in infant products. I would absolutely NOT feed this to infants.
Merrill S. October 16, 2012
There are plenty of brands of canned tomatoes that do not use BPAs in their packaging: http://livingmaxwell.com/bpa-free-cans-organic-food. And of course, there is always Pomi, which doesn't use cans at all.