[11] Pasta Bolognese

Cooking for Two: 120 Recipes for Every Day and Those Special Nights

These two authors? I think they are not quite as good at writing recipes for two as they claim. HOWEVER, they might be better at it than just about any other “for two” cookbook authors I’ve read. This recipe, like the last one from this book, made over two servings. It made one Bill serving and two Tasha servings, and the second Tasha serving might have been a bit skimpy. When we get to one of my favorite chickpea recipes out of Healthy Cooking for Two Or Just You we’ll hit a recipe that claims to be for two, but seems to make enough for four or so.

The lovely thing about this book so far is that the authors do seem to have a good sense of the timing of their recipes. This recipe claims to be a super fast one with minimal cooking required, and they were correct. It does not end up as the classic bolognese sauce so many of us think of when we hear that word (it’s not a marinara with meat chunks, Angelique), but it’s quite tasty.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced (We again used part of an onion – in fact, part of the same onion from the night before!)

1 small carrot, minced

1 small celery rib, minced

1 large garlic clove, minced (Can you say, “Garlic Press”?)

1/3 lb ground veal or lean ground beef (Or, in our case, ground bison from North Dakota.)

1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (We used no-salt added. Don’t do that.)

1.5 tsp chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 tsp dried (Dried for us.)

1 tsp fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried (See above.)

1/2 tsp salt (We used kosher salt, as it’s what we have on hand.)

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper (Again, I think we end up using a mix when a recipe calls for this, since I think Bill put a mix in the grinder.)

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (We used ground nutmeg from our spice stash.)

6 oz dried flat noodles, cooked

2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (We used a substitute I really like, 12 month aged Manchego cheese. Expect to see this anywhere parm is called for.)


Heat a medium sauce or saute pan over medium heat, then swirl in the oil. Add the shallot, carrot, celery and garlic and stir occasionally until the carrots soften and the aromatics smell super.

At that point, crumble in the ground meat and cook for 30 seconds. Stir constantly, but try not to break up the “meat fibers”. The point is to take the raw-looking edge off the meat, no more. Then pour in the milk and cook for two more minutes, stirring often. Cook that until the milk is almost evaporated, then stir in the tomatoes and their juice and the spices (yes, salt is a spice). Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer uncovered on low for 20 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

At that thickened point, stir in the cooked pasta, and cook for about a minute to heat through. Divide between two bowls and top with 1 tbsp each of the cheese and serve.

Cooking and Consumption Notes


If you’re like us and only have no-salt added diced tomato products, do like I did and add salt as you add the tomatoes. Don’t be like me and be shy about adding salt. Remember that this is a recipe calling for a canned product, which usually has insane sodium levels, and salt accordingly.

Because the meat isn’t drained, it’s pretty important to get fairly lean ground. I didn’t recall I needed very lean meat when I was buying, and so I’m glad I opted for the bison when I was at the butchers’ counter. I don’t know where it lands on the fat scale, but I know it’s leaner than the 85% lean chuck that was on sale. It still had a few more fat aggregates than I wanted to see.


We had to each add a decent amount of salt to this, but even before we’d done that we’d agreed the dish was quite tasty and good for a weeknight. However, having an appropriate amount of salt really helped the flavors come out. I imagine if the salt were added during the cooking process (either via can or liberal salting when adding the tomatoes), the flavors would have melded better and quite possibly less would have been needed overall. That’s a tough one to say.

We used spaghetti noodles. They are not flat. The world did not end.