It was pouring outside. My phone beeped with constant weather alerts and warning about the potential for flooding, high standing water, and overflowing streams. Dinnertime was fast approaching, but no one felt particularly inspired to start making plans to go out for dinner in the downpour.
We rummaged around the pantry, trying to determine what there was on hand we could use to make dinner.
“There’s a jar of pasta sauce.”
I wrinkled my nose. “I mean, unless we dress it up… but if we’re going to do that, we may as well do a quick grocery store run.”
“Why do we need to dress up jarred pasta sauce?”
“Well, we don’t need to, but it tastes better.” A pause, a beat. “Actually, let’s make our own pasta sauce.”
“I’ll cook. It’ll be great. I promise.”
And that was how I made Jamie Oliver’s spaghetti bolognese on a rainy Saturday night.
Spaghetti bolognese is hearty and filling, the kind of pasta dish that warms you from the inside and invokes memories of spaghetti dinners from childhood. Over time, I’ve found that I gravitate most to bolognese recipes that involve more than a splash of red wine, for that added depth of flavor. Rosemary is a newfound love of mine, discovered after I tried a dish at Graffiato that involved crispy rosemary that was absolutely to die for. And sundried tomatoes? I’ve loved them always, especially after I discovered that grocery store tomatoes are not anything special at all (farmer’s market tomatoes or die, if you ask me), as sundried tomatoes fill the tomato loving void in my heart when farmer’s market tomatoes are out of season.
This dish came together easily, albeit not very quickly thanks to the hour it spends in the oven. But that hour the sauce spends melding flavors in the oven makes a huge difference, so it’s a step that cannot be skipped or trimmed for time. I like my pasta sauces chunkier than average, and this chunky sauce was flavorful in spades. What’s not to love?
And yes, the spaghetti bolognese was great, just like I promised.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver
- Olive oil
- 6 oz pancetta, chopped
- 2 sprigs worth of fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- Small handful of fresh basil and oregano leaves, torn
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 lb ground meat (beef is traditional, but I used turkey breast)
- 1 cup red wine
- 28 oz whole plum tomatoes, peeled
- 10 oz sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 lb dried spaghetti
- Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350F. In a frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and cook pancetta, rosemary, basil, oregano, garlic, and onion, till the onions are soft and pancetta starts to become crispy. Add ground meat till it starts to brown, breaking apart lumps.
- Add wine, sundried tomatoes, and whole plum tomatoes to the mixture. Break apart the plum tomatoes with a wooden spoon, stirring as needed to incorporate.
- Transfer the mixture to a casserole pan. Cover in foil and place in the oven for an hour. After 30 minutes, remove the foil. If the mixture looks dry, add a little bit of water to help with cooking.
- 10 minutes before the sauce is done in the oven, cook spaghetti according to instructions. Reserve some of the cooking water when draining.
- When the sauce is done, take it out of the oven and incorporate it with the cooked spaghetti. Add some of the reserved cooking water to assist with incorporating if needed. Drizzle the final product with a splash of olive oil. Serve the spaghetti bolognese with shaved Parmesan sprinkled on top.