Bolognese Marinara Sauce ✠

Classic Marinara sauce is simply a tomato sauce with a little olive oil, and garlic. Many people (no Italians or my family, though) would say no garlic. But there’s no meat in it. If it contains meat it has to be called something else (such as marinara with meat).

Known in Italy as ragù alla Bolognese, or simply ragù, the classic Bolognese sauce is a meat sauce with just a bit of tomato for flavor. The rest is wine, milk, and vegetables. Outside Italy, Bolognese sauce often refers to a marinara-like sauce with meat, being more similar in fact to the ragù alla Napoletana of southern Italy. Ragù is not served with spaghetti in Italy. Although “spaghetti Bolognese” is popular elsewhere, it is scorned by Italians.

The sauce you find here is a marriage of these two Italian staples*. Absent from the usual ingredients are most of the olive oil, salt, and sugar. It is delicious over any pasta, but I enjoy it most over Zoodles†.

  • cooking spray
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 5 rashers bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, sliced thin (optional)
  • 1 15-oz can chopped unsalted tomatoes
  • 1 8-oz can unsalted tomato sauce
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon <sugar>
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup Asiago (or Parmesan) cheese, grated

Spray a sauce pan with cooking spray and drizzle the olive oil over the bottom. Brown the meat; add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onions are limp.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, red wine, oregano, <sugar>, and pepper to the pan, raise the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Serve over pasta or Zoodles garnished with the basil and grated cheese.

Makes about 7 cups.