Weeknight Bolognese

This quick and easy Italian meat sauce is packed with flavor but takes way less time than a traditional bolognese, which makes it perfect for a weeknight!

overhead shot of weeknight bolognese in white bowl

I love to cook, but sometimes I don’t want to do a labor intensive meal, especially during the week. One of the meals I really enjoy but hardly every make is bolognese. I have a great recipe, but it has to cook for hours which just isn’t conducive during the week. That was until a co-worker of mine mentioned a weeknight bolognese she makes all the time. It’s actually Ina Garten’s from Barefoot Contessa. I was surprised that I never ran across it, as she is one of my go-tos when looking for recipe ideas but I adapted what she created to make this insanely tasty weeknight bolognese.

Make no mistake, bolognese is a rich sauce as it involves red wine and cream, but that’s why I love it. The wine gives it such a great depth of flavor plus gives me an excuse to drink wine during the week as I have to open a bottle to make this weeknight bolognese. So if you’re looking for an easy meal that involves some wine, this is worth a try.

overhead shot of sauce in yellow dutch oven

What Ingredients are in this Weeknight Bolognese?

  • Olive oil
  • Sweet onion
  • Lean ground sirloin
  • Garlic
  • Spices – oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, nutmeg
  • Dry red wine
  • San Marzano tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Fresh basil
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Orecchiette

What is the difference between bolognese sauce and spaghetti sauce?

Spaghetti sauce in general is marinara sauce which is primarily tomatoes, but no meat where as bolognese sauce is a meat based sauce that includes tomatoes, wine and either milk or cream.

close-up of weeknight bolognese in white bowl

Do I Have to Use Wine?

Yes. Wine is a key ingredient to giving the bolognese its depth of flavor. And using a wine you’d be willing to drink is even more important so don’t go cheap on the wine. Remember, once you open the wine to cook you have to drink it and that’s never a bad thing.

overhead shot of weeknight bolognese in white bowl

Other Pasta Recipes:

5 from 1 vote
overhead shot of weeknight bolognese in white bowl
Weeknight Bolognese
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins

This weeknight bolognese is a quick and easy Italian meat sauce that is packed with flavor but takes way less time than a traditional bolognese.

Course: Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Weeknight Bolognese
Servings: 8
Calories: 425 kcal
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (29 oz can) tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dried nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb orecchiette
  1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add ground sirloin, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and beginning to brown.

  2. Stir in garlic, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional minute. Pour wine in to scrape up any brown bits. Add the tomato puree, tomato paste salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat, simmering for 10 minutes.

  3. While sauce is simmering bring pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to directions.

  4. With pasta cooking finish the sauce by adding the nutmeg, basil and cream. Drain pasta and add to sauce, stirring in Parmesan cheese. Top with some Parmesan and basil.

One Comment

  1. Bolognese is one of my favorites!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *