Weeknight Bolognese

My Weeknight Bolognese takes only 30 minutes, but the hearty tomato sauce with ground sirloin, tomatoes, red wine (don't worry, the alcohol cooks off!), oregano and lots of spices tastes like it's been simmering on the stove all day. You can cook any boxed pasta that you have in the pantry; I prefer orecchiette ("little ears" in Italian) or small shells because they trap the sauce. A sprinkling of fresh basil, Parmesan cheese and a splash of cream at the end, and you have a delicious, satisfying dinner your whole family will love. To save even more time, you can make the sauce over the weekend and simply reheat it while you boil some pasta before dinner. And if you want to get a few extra vegetables into your kids, add some leftover cooked broccoli, cauliflower or peas to the finished sauce-they'll never suspect!
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 30 min
  • Prep: 5 min
  • Cook: 25 min
  • Yield: 4 to 5 servings
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2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra to cook the pasta

1 pound lean ground sirloin

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

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground sirloin and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and has started to brown. Stir in the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, a splash of oil and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.
  3. While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream and the remaining 1/4 cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Cook’s Note

Make-Ahead Plan: Make the sauce, let it cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To serve, bring the sauce to a simmer while you cook the pasta, then toss the sauce with the pasta and Parmesan.

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