Sauced: Three Great Pasta Sauces

Bolognese Sauce [ragu] (makes 2 ½ cups*)

2 T olive oil

2 T butter

¼ cup diced onion

3 T carrots in a small dice

3 T celery in a small dice

1 lb. ground chuck

2 t salt

¼ t freshly ground black pepper

1 cup dry white wine

½ cup milk

1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg

2 ½ cups canned Italian peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano.

In a 5 ½-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven or stainless steel pot, place olive oil, butter and onions.  Sauté just until onions are translucent.  Add carrots and celery and continue to cook gently for a few minutes.  Break up the ground beef and add it to the pot.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until meat has lost its red color.  Do not brown.  Add wine and increase heat to medium high and cook stirring from time to time until wine evaporates.

Lower heat and add milk and nutmeg until milk evaporates.  The milk keeps the meat sweet and creamy.  Stir in the tomatoes and break up with wooden spoon.  When the sauce comes to a simmer, lower the heat to maintain the barest simmer and continue cooking with the cover ajar for 3 ½ hours.  Stir occasionally and taste for seasoning.

*It wouldn’t be a bad idea to double this recipe and reserve half for future use.  It freezes perfectly.

(Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s The Classic Italian Cookbook)

Simple Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

3 whole red bell peppers

2 T pine nuts (optional)

2 T olive oil

1/2  medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ t salt

1/2 cup heavy cream

Flat leaf parsley, finely minced

Fresh parmesan, shaved or grated

Roast red peppers, and then place in a Ziploc bag to allow to sweat. Peel the charred skins from the peppers, then removed seeds. Set aside.

Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet. Set aside.

Puree peppers with pine nuts. Set aside.

In a skillet or pot over medium heat, drizzle in olive oil. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add salt.

Pour in cream and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Add chopped parsley to finished dish.

Tomato Cream Sauce (my favorite for cheese ravioli)


3 T finely chopped shallots

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 medium fresh tomato or 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

2 t tomato paste (the tube variety is convenient)

¼ t sea salt

1/8 t white pepper

1 cup heavy cream

1 T chopped parsley for garnish optional)


In a 9-inch skillet, place shallots and wine.  Cook over medium heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons.  Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste. Add salt and pepper. Continue reducing until tomatoes have absorbed remainder of wine. Slowly stir in cream and you will have a slightly thickened sauce. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Brown Butter and Sage Sauce (Make this sauce just before serving.)

8 oz. unsalted butter, cut into 1 T chunks

8 medium fresh sage leaves, chopped

I medium clove of garlic, minced

1 medium shallot, finely chopped

Pinch of salt

Pinch of black pepper

2 T freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese

Melt butter in a medium hot skillet.  When it starts to brown, add sage leaves.  Turn heat to low.  Add garlic, shallots, salt and pepper.  When the mixture turns to a golden brown, add cheese. Fold in well-drained pasta, turn to coat and serve.

Photos by Michael Kirigin


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