- Foodie, Formerly Fat - http://foodieformerlyfat.com -

Bolongese Sauce

The simple truth behind this dish is that it was the product of my near obsessive need not to throw away leftovers and I had some turkey meatballs and tomato sauce left over in the fridge but I didn’t really want to eat meatballs again so soon. Now, a true bolongese sauce is made from slow cooking ground beef in the sauce for a long period of time. The book Heat by NY Times journalist Bill Buford goes into a detailed description of how it’s made in a little town in Italy where they take days to prepare it. (The book’s full name is awesome: Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.) But I had no such time or inclinations.


The easy simplicity of this dish is that it’s basically just a reincarnation of something else. I’ve found that with a little creativity, and some basic staples in the house (like onions, pasta, and frozen peas) you can get by really “cooking” only two or three times a week. The rest of the time you can get away with doctoring and reinventing what you already have left over in the fridge. Some of those “second life” meals, like this one, can be prepped and cooked in a flash and make a perfect weeknight dinner with a salad on the side.


Bolongese Sauce


  • 2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of basic tomato sauce
  • 3-5 leftover meatballs
  • 1/4-1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 pound pasta like penne
  • 1-3 ladles of the pasta’s cooking water.


  1. Put a pot of water on to boil.
  2. In a large frying pan put the olive oil and the chopped onion.
  3. Sweat down the onions until they are translucent and have started to get a bit browned.
  4. Add in the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  5. Add in the meatballs and mash them with the tines of a fork.
  6. Allow this to warm up and start to gently simmer.
  7. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  8. A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready stir the cream and peas into the sauce to warm.
  9. Do not drain the pasta. When it is fully cooked use a slotted spoon to transfer it to the pan with the sauce. Stir it to incorporate. If the sauce appears dry or clumpy add in some of the pasta’s cooking water and stir to combine.
  10. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Cooking time (duration): 20

Number of servings (yield): 2

Meal type: dinner