Italy has given the world so much—Michelangelo’s David, opera, espresso, the Da Vinci code (kidding)—but arguably one of the country’s finest achievements is the simple Bolognese sauce. Think about it. Have you ever been sad to show up at someone’s house and see Bolognese sauce on the menu? It’s pure comfort. And it feels Fancy, with a capital F.
The components are generally simple, and our recipe for Pasta Bolognese with Peas and Ricotta strips them down even more. In place of a mixture of ground meats, lean ground beef steps up, and a simple can of diced tomatoes goes a long way. If you’re cooking for vegetarians, you could easily sub the ground beef for finely chopped mushrooms or use vegetarian crumbles.
Two of the ingredients—peas and ricotta—might be controversial depending on your Bolognese leanings, but before you dismiss these additions, consider the evidence. One of the best things about Bolognese is the silken quality the sauce takes on when it is stirred and simmered for hours on end. A dollop of ricotta mimics that creamy quality in seconds, and the coolness contrasts with the piping hot sauce. As for the peas, the rich Bolognese needs a bit of freshness, and how much time do you like to spend hunched over a cutting board, mincing herbs? Exactly. The frozen peas add a pop of color and flavor, with almost no prep required.
Another point of contention with a typical Bolognese is what to serve it on. Tagliatelle is a classic choice, but the shells in this recipe cup the sauce instead of splattering it all over your shirt. (You know, the way tagliatelle often does!)
If you like to get things done in advance, this sauce also reheats like a dream—add the peas just before serving, after reheating the rest of the sauce. It’s also a frugal choice for a party, in which one pound of beef serves eight people, but if you have leftovers, you can use the sauce in a baked pasta dish or serve it on zoodles, which don’t come from Italy, but that’s okay.
Get the Recipe: Pasta Bolognese with Peas and Ricotta