Rigatoni bolognese is a simple, yet elegant dish made with homemade bolognese sauce, rigatoni, fresh herbs, and a dollop of ricotta or mascarpone cheese (don’t skip me, presentation is everything, my friend). It’s a fantastic authentic Italian recipe that’s perfect for those cold winter nights.
Date-night bolognese anyone? Yeah, it’s that good.
What is Bolognese?
We make bolognese a lot these days, it’s a fairly simple Italian meat sauce made with ground beef, onions, carrots, celery, fresh herbs, garlic, diced tomatoes, wine, and whole milk. It’s most famous for its thick and meaty texture that nicely sticks to pasta of your choice.
This recipe, of course, use rigatoni but you can pair with just about anything. I personally love gnocchi and pappardelle.
How to Make Bolognese
I typically make bolognese in a dutch oven. It’s best for cooking beef and simmering large quantities of sauce. The recipe is essentially broken down into three simple parts.
- Tenderizing all of the finely chopped veggies in oil and butter (carrots, onions, celery).
- Fully cooking the beef (and optional ground sausage) in the same pan and breaking into very small chunks, almost granular. Ground sausage adds tremendous flavor (highly recommend).
- Adding tomatoes and herbs, spices and let simmer until the sauce is reduced and thick.
It really is one of the easiest homemade sauces to make perfectly every time.
Finley Chopped Veggies
It’s so important to very finely chop the celery, carrots, and onions. It improved the flavor and overall texture. My favorite hack is using shredded carrots and chopping them further. It’s an easy way to quickly finely chop carrots. They can be tedious otherwise.
Can I Make the Sauce Ahead?
You can make the sauce ahead of time if you’d like. Sometimes I like to make the sauce up in the morning and store in the fridge so it only takes 15 minutes to prepare just before dinner. If you’re having people over, this is the way to go. If you end up doing this, be sure to warm up the sauce on the stove before adding any pasta.
Can I Freeze Bolognese Sauce?
Yes, store sauce alone in a sealed container and freeze for up to 6 months. Let thaw in the fridge and reheat in a saucepan when preparing. Freeze sauce alone and do not freeze the final dish with pasta in it. It won’t be good.
Also, be sure to check out a few other of my favorite Italian inspired recipes before you go.
You’ll Also Love
- Cheesy gnocchi bolognese
- Creamy chicken carbonara
- Pesto gnocchi with shrimp
- Pasta alla norma
- Baked ziti with ricotta and mozzarella
Rigatoni bolognese is a simple, yet elegant dish made with homemade bolognese sauce, rigatoni, fresh herbs, and a dollop of ricotta or mascarpone cheese.
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1/2 pound 85% lean ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground sweet italian sausage
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- 1/2 cup carrot, diced
- 1/2 cup white wine (or red if you prefer)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 8–10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 3–4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Dash of crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Mascarpone or rictotta and or parmesan cheese for topping
- Bring oil and butter to medium heat in a large pan or dutch oven. Once hot, add minced garlic and chopped onion. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in celery and carrots, simmering for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add ground beef and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Use the tip of a spatula to break up the beef into very small chunks. Season all over with salt and pepper liberally.
- Add crushed tomatoes, crushed red pepper, wine, chopped basil, oregano, tomato paste, and sugar. Stir and let simmer until sauce thickens, about 25-30 minutes. Stir in milk and turn off the burner.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rigatoni and cook until al dente. Strain well and add to the bolognese. Mix well and serve topped with fresh basil and a dallop of ricotta or mascarpone cheese.
Bolognese can be made ahead of time and reheated when ready to serve. You can also store in the freezer for 4-6 months. Let thaw in fridge and reheat in suacepan.
For a twist and added flavor, I use a 50-50 split of ground beef and ground Italian sausage. You can use all ground beef if you prefer.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 669
- Sugar: 14.7g
- Sodium: 767mg
- Fat: 25.5g
- Saturated Fat: 9.4g
- Carbohydrates: 74.3g
- Fiber: 8g
- Protein: 31.4
- Cholesterol: 74mg
Keywords: rigatoni bolognese, date-night bolognese