Anna Mintz is a Publicist for Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, and is an editor for The Recipe Club. Originally from Atlanta, she now lives in New York City and loves exploring NYC’s restaurant scene and trying out new recipes in her own kitchen.
Recently, I hosted one of my best friends from college for a visit over a long weekend. Elizabeth and I had a busy, fun-filled weekend of visiting museums, enjoying dinners out at amazing restaurants, taking in a Broadway musical, and lots and lots of walking. By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, we were completely exhausted in the best of ways and decided that rather than go out that evening, we’d have a nice night in. After carefully examining my cookbook shelf, we picked out Weeknight Bolognese from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? (Clarkson Potter, 2010) by Ina Garten.
To start off, I cooked 1 pound of lean ground sirloin in a large pot until it started to brown. Then I added 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, and some crushed red pepper flakes. The recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper flakes, but I like my red sauce to have a little more of a kick, so I just added a few more shakes to the meat.
Next, I added to the pot 1 cup of dry red wine, tomato paste, 1 large can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes (the best!), and some salt and pepper. At this point, our stomachs really began to rumble, because the kitchen was starting to smell amazing! I assigned my sous-chef Elizabeth the task of preparing the salad. As she diced up some tomatoes and red onions, I started to boil the pasta, while keeping an eye on my tomato sauce. After it had simmered for 10 minutes, I added chopped basil, nutmeg, and a touch of heavy cream. These last special ingredients are the key to this recipe and really gave the sauce a unique and rich flavor.
We served the pasta with a very simple salad and a good bottle of red wine, and our meal was the perfect cherry on top of a wonderful weekend spent with an old friend. Bottom line: Even though this Barefoot Contessa recipe is called “Weeknight” Bolognese, I can assure you that it was absolutely delicious on a Sunday and would be any day of the week!
Recipe for Weeknight Bolognese
from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That?
2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra to cook the pasta
1 pound lean ground sirloin
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1¼ cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1½ teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.
While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.