A rich and meaty tomato sauce that takes less than 30 minutes to make. This simple Pasta Bolognese (or meat sauce) is full of flavor and tastes like it’s been simmering all day long!
So I know the first thing you think when you look at this is, “that’s not spaghetti!” I know, but hear me out. My kids don’t know that difference between pastas. If it’s long and skinny, it’s spaghetti, whether it’s actually linguine or angel hair. So, we’ll just let that slide.
Moving on…this is my go to sauce when I want something from scratch but I didn’t decide that until 5:00. It comes together in about 25 minutes or so and the flavor is so rich and amazing. This is actually a play off of my sister’s recipe that she is known for. She used two kinds of meat and would let it simmer on her stove all day long. I remember walking in to the house and it would always smell so good. This sauce is my quick version of that, and I love it just as much.
I also use both ground beef and Italian sausage, which makes this an extra flavorful and meaty sauce. In other words there’s more meat than sauce, which I love, but you can cut the amount of meat in half if you want it saucier.
After you’ve cooked the meat, drain it and add a can of crushed tomatoes, dry red wine, tomato paste, and a whole bunch of yummy seasonings. Then bring it all to a beautiful simmer. Don’t have red wine on hand? I’ll let you in on a little secret, I never do either! Instead I add 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar and about 1/2 cup apple juice and 1/2 cup water. It gives a hint of red wine flavor, and a little bit of sweetness to cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. I know it sounds totally weird, but we love it this way, and I’ve yet to have any complaints!
While the sauce is bubbling away, cook the pasta to al dente. Add a little cream and a whole bunch of fresh basil to the sauce just before tossing in the pasta.
Once the pasta is cooked, don’t drain it, but add it right into the sauce and stir it around to coat. This method helps the sauce cling to the noodles better. Don’t ever rinse your pasta!
Now you have no excuse not to make a rich and flavorful meat sauce – from scratch – any night of the week!
Easy Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2-1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2-1 pound Italian sausage (not in casings)
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/4 cups dry red wine, divided (or 1/4 cup red wine vinegar + 1/2 cup apple juice + 1/2 cup water)
- 1-28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound dried pasta, like spaghetti or linguine
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 5 quart saute pan or pot over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and Italian sausage and cook, crumbling with a wood spoon, for about 6 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink.
- Drain some of the fat (but leave a little behind for flavor) and stir in garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in dry red wine (or alternative red wine vinegar mixture) and de-glaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits.
- Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, about a tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of olive oil and the pasta. Cook according to package directions.
- While the pasta cooks, add the nutmeg, fresh basil and heavy cream to the sauce and simmer for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.
- Once the pasta is cooked to al dente (cooked, but with a bite) add the pasta directly to the sauce and stir/toss to coat. Add the 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan and toss again. Note - add the pasta in batches, so you can judge how much you need.
- Divide into bowls and garnish with more Parmesan cheese.
If you don't like to cook with wine, or simply don't have any on hand, try my little trick of combining red wine vinegar with apple juice and water. No one will know that difference!
For more easy and delicious weeknight pasta dishes, try these: