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Weeknight Rigatoni Bolognese

Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Dairy Free
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Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

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Why we love it:

If you want to turn this into a Sunday Supper Italian Grandma Bolognese, just let it simmer for 3 hours. That’s really it! The flavors develop more depth, but we love this quick fresh version, too. This a great recipe to double, then freeze half of the sauce for another meal!


  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 rib Celery
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 12 cup White Wine (optional)
  • 1 28-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes (or diced)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
  • 12 cup Heavy Cream (or milk, optional)
  • 1 pound Rigatoni Pasta
  • 5 cups Spring Mix Salad Greens
  • 4 Tablespoons Salad Dressing
  • 12 cup Parmesan Cheese (optional, to taste)

Cooking Instructions


    Finely dice the onion, carrot, celery, and mince the garlic.

  • 2. SAUTÉ

    Heat a heavy pot with a wide bottom, over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and the veggies. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt and sauté for 5 minutes.

  • 3. MEAT

    Add the ground beef to the pan and break it up while you sauté it for about 6 minutes or until it’s all browned. Continue cooking and breaking up into small pieces. You may prefer to use a potato masher or just keep working it with a wooden spoon.


    If using, add the wine. Then add the tomatoes, and dried oregano. Turn the heat to high and cover it. Bring it to a steady simmer. Once simmering, stir well and uncover the pot. Turn heat down to medium and it should retain a slow, gentle simmer this way.

    Cook for 10 - 20 minutes. If you have longer, by all means, simmer for up to 75 minutes.
    If using cream - like some of Italy does - you can stir that in for the last 5 minutes or so to simmer. It doesn’t freeze as well this way, so omit if planning to freeze.

  • 5. PASTA

    Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain. You can either toss the pasta with a drizzle of olive oil then plate the sauce on top - or toss the pasta into the sauce to get it nicely coated.

  • 6. SALAD

    Wash and dry lettuce. Toss with dressing.

  • 7. SERVING

    Serve pasta with a simple side salad. Garnish with parmesan cheese to taste.

Check out our new features!


    use GF pasta or serve over zucchini noodles or polenta
    omit the cream and cheese
    totally optional, omit without adding anything else
  • BEEF:
    ground turkey and chicken are a dream here!
  • WINE:
    totally optional, omit without adding anything else

Kid Friendly Version

Big Kids Plate
Toddler Plate

How to Tweak This Recipe for Kids:

  • Before sautéing the beef, form a little meatball or small slider-sized patty, then serve their pasta without bolognese

For Toddlers

  • Chop the rigatoni into smaller pieces or select a different pasta shape if needed
  • Add fruit and veggies of choice

For Choosy Eaters

  • Easy enough to serve buttered pasta with parmesan cheese if they’re choosy
  • Serve with chopped veggies or fruit that will be accepted
  • Let them try a little sauce, or even remove a scoop of beef before you add tomatoes and see if they’ll try that

Prep Ahead & Use It Up

Make bolo entirely, tastes amazing up to 6 days later – or freeze for up to 4 – 6 months

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