Basic Bolognese

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Tomato & Anchovy Paste

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again. So it’s time to keep things simple. And what could be easier than food in a tube? I know … surprising words coming from me – especially considering my penchant for fresh ingredients. However I have come to rely on these two kitchen staples: tomato paste and anchovy paste. I am so grateful that I learned about these nifty tubes. Prior to this discovery I was forever opening cans of tomato paste only to have it spoil before I could use the entire amount. Ditto the tins of anchovies, which I use only infrequently in Caesar salad dressing or other recipes in need of a hit of salty flavor. So stocking tubes of tomato and anchovy paste is, for me, a no-brainer.

One of my most treasured recipes featuring tomato paste is Bolognese sauce. This is one of my favorite things to make in March, when the wind kicks up and it’s cold outside. Plus, in keeping with the simplistic theme, this recipe is very, very basic. The ingredients can be found almost anywhere – I’ve even made this in foreign locales when I have access to a kitchen. It’s a slow cooked meat sauce that can be used to top any kind of pasta (my favorite is fresh pappardelle from Delaurenti in Pike Place Market in Seattle… but you can use any kind you like). And, best of all, the house smells heavenly when it’s cooking away on the stovetop.

Bolognese Sauce

Serves 4-5


  • 1 brown onion, peeled and diced ¼ inch
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced ¼ inch
  • 2 celery stalks, diced the same size as the carrots
  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and diced small
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground chuck or lamb
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 8 oz beef stock or vegetable stock (I have even used chicken stock in a pinch)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large straight-sided pan (at least 8 inches in diameter with deep sides) over medium-high heat.

Add the oil until it is hot, then add in the diced vegetables.

When they have browned a bit, add the meat. Keep stirring and breaking up the meat with a wood spoon. When it is no longer pink and lightly browned, add the tomato paste, stock, salt and pepper – stirring well to combine.

It should cook on low heat for at least one hour, with the lid on, and should be stirred from time to time. Taste and adjust seasonings.

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, and it freezes well for up to 4 months.

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4 Responses to Basic Bolognese

  1. Lilian says:

    My Bolognese has the same ingredients plus of Worcestershire sauce, wine and bay leaf.

    • Marilyn says:

      Sounds good..I have used worcestershire at times, and wine too if any is left over. Made this in Belize because the weather was rainy and it tasted great. I used a lot of chopped peppers because they needed a home…the “recipe” is a start only!

  2. Robin Bear says:

    Hi Marilyn,
    I’m a friend of Kay’s. She turned me on to your blog last year and I like it so much. Thanks! I waste tomato paste all the time and I want to find that tube. Do you find the Napoleon’s tomato paste in supermarkets? I live in Des Moines so maybe on line?

  3. Marilyn says:

    It is usually with middle East ingredients and with anchovy paste at a regular supermarket. Call daughter in Iowa City found it there so it should be in DM. Thanks for reading my blog!!

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