My kids love pasta - I swear they must have been Italian in the past lives!! The love pasta anyway they can get it - plain, with butter and parm cheese, with sauce, without sauce, with meatballs, with veggies...you name it, they love it. But I love to feed them this awesome bolognese sauce packed with protein and veggies - it's healthy and the kids don't even know it! I have also found that even though my kids love their veggies, sometimes they can be picky and don't want to eat it even though I want them to...so the trick that I have figured out is that if I finely dice up all of the veggies in the sauce, when it cooks down, the veggies become really soft and almost blend into the sauce and the kids will never know. Not to mention that the sauce is so thick and flavorful that they'll ask for seconds! I have tried many different recipes but in the end, I just blended bits and pieces of a few recipes and made up my own. It's a staple in my house and I tend to make a large batch on the weekend and refrigerate what I need and freeze the rest. This recipe is also great to entertain with as well as used as a delicious filling for lasagna.
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely diced
3-4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 large carrots, peeled, finely diced
2-3 ribs celery, finely diced
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck beef
1 small (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup hearty red wine (optional) or 1 cup beef stock
3 bay leaves
2 tsp dried italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pan, heat olive oil and butter. Add onion and garlic and saute over med heat until the onions become very soft, about 8-10 minutes. Then add the carrots and celery and saute for 5-7 minutes.
Raise the heat to med-high and add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until the meat is no longer pink, stirring frequently and breaking up large lumps.
Add the tomato paste and cook until brown about 5-7 minutes. Then add the canned tomatoes and red wine or stock, cook until the liquid is reduced by half, another 5-7 minutes.
Add enough water to the pan until the water is about 1 inch above meat level. Add in herbs and stir to combine mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water/liquid evaporates, you will gradually need to add more - about 2-3 cups at a time--->you want this liquid to keep evaporating down, this is where the flavors develop. Stir and taste frequently - season with salt if needed. Simmer for 3-4 HOURS (Good idea to make this on the weekend). Sauce should be thick in the end.
Take off heat and allow to cool. Reserve enough sauce to use during the week. Any remaining sauce can be frozen in small freezer containers, don't forget to date and label. Or freeze in ice cube trays - once frozen, pop out cubes and place in large Ziploc type bag (date and label). Whenever you need some sauce, place cubes or freezer container in the microwave to thaw, add cooked pasta, sprinkle with parm cheese and enjoy! You can have a healthy, delicious and fast meal that your kids (and family) will love in minutes! Enjoy...