This winter weather begs for piping hot bowls of pasta.  Bolognese is one of my cold weather favorites, but I never felt it was really a feasible week night dish.  I’m too tired to do all that chopping after work.  But then, low and behold, Ina came to the rescue yet again, with a weeknight version that is just as good, if not better, as any other more complicated version of the sauce.  In fact, I think this will be my go to for bolognese from now on.  I actually cooked it for the first time for our “holiday” dinner, before I headed up to NY.

I also made garlic bread to go with.  My mother’s garlic bread was one of the dishes growing up, where friends and dinner party guests would often utter, “Molly, this is delicious!  How did you make it?”  Ironically enough, her recipe could not be simpler.  Because of this reaction, and well, the fact that it’s delicious, I’ve always followed my mother’s recipe for garlic bread.  I added some chopped basil to this version, just because I had it on hand, but it’s not necessary for the standard recipe.

Weeknight Bolognese from Ina Garten’s “How Easy is That?”

Serves 4-5

2 T good olive oil

1 lb ground sirloin (or just ground beef)

4 tsp minced garlic

1 T dried oregano

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/4 cups dry red wine

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

2 T tomato paste

1 lb pasta ( such as penne, fusili, orchiette)

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped basil

1/4 heavy cream (or sour cream, creme fraiche)

1/2 freshly grated parm (plus more for serving)

s+p to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon for 5-7 minutes, until the meat has lost its pink color and started to brown.  Stir in the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, and cook for one more minute.  Pour one cup of wine into the pan and stir, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 T salt, and 1 1/2 tsp pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, splash of oil, and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the box.

While the pasta cooks, finish the sauce.  Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining 1/4 c of wine, simmer for 8-10 minutes until sauce has thickened.  When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl.  Add the sauce and 1/2 parm and toss well.  Serve immediately.

Garlic Bread

1/2 baguette

2 1/2 T minced garlic

1/4 c good olive oil

garlic salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place olive oil and minced garlic in a small saucepan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.Be sure to keep the flame low so the garlic doesn’t burn.  Slice the bread in half lengthwise, and lay the pieces crust side down.  Once cooked spoon the garlic and oil mixture evening over the bread, spreading the garlic all the way to the edges. If using basil, stir it into the garlic mixture after it has cooked.  Lastly, sprinkle garlic salt somewhat liberally on each piece. Put the top and bottom back together, wrap tightly in foil, and bake for 12 minutes.  During the last minute of cooking time, remove the foil so the crust can crisp up.  Cut into slices and serve alongside the pasta.

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