Monday, June 3, 2013

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

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Welcome June! In my part of the world, June still feels like spring and the weather is on a major identity crisis. One would think we'd be enjoying warm sunny days... but in reality, lately, it's been nothing but clouds, a smattering of rain and cooler temperatures. It is spring? fall? winter? Because here, we all know it's definitely not summer. So with the recent weather, comforting food seems to be in order. This Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese simmers for hours to meld the flavors of dried herbs, aromatic vegetables, savory ground beef and wine for an effortless pasta sauce...


Who doesn't love spaghetti? For me, it's all about the sauce. There are countless sauce recipes out there and I've found that the best ones are those that cook for hours to allow the flavors to really build and develop. A slow cooker is great to do just that since it can simmer for long periods without any effort. From the original recipe, I adapted it to add a bit more flavor. Sauteéing onions and garlic with ground beef helps add more flavor before letting it slow cook. I also added some additional dry spices to bring out for more flavor, including dried basil and dried Italian seasoning. Also a touch of sugar just brightens up the sauce. You can prepare this as written and portion out the sauce to cool. It freezes well and makes for a quick weeknight meal too!


Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese
recipe adapted from Real Simple

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    1 teaspoon dried basil
    1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3/4 pound spaghetti or GF spaghetti
  • grated Parmesan, for serving


In a skillet set over medium high heat, add oil. When hot, sauté onions and garlic, cooking until softened. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain any remaining juices and transfer beef to a  4- to 6-quart slow cooker.

To the slow cooker, add the tomatoes and their juices, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, tomato paste, wine, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and sugar. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Prepare the spaghetti according to package directions just prior to serving. Serve bolognese sauce over spaghetti as is or with meatballs. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 

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