Six Recipes to Make With Sweet Summer Tomatoes

Bolognese ala Franco by Pam Tallman

tomato bolognese recipeBolognese ala Franco
(Makes 4 servings)

Bolognese sauce traditionally has milk in it, but I leave it out for my lactose intolerant friends. You won’t miss the milk and your friends will thank you.—Pam Tallman

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
2 cups diced tomatoes (see note) or 1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup finely diced celery (about 3 stalks)
1 cup finely diced, peeled carrot (about 1 large or 2 medium)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups finely diced sweet Vidalia or yellow onion (about half a large onion)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (or to taste)
1 ¼ cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
6 to 8 ounces cooked Barilla Mezzi Rigatoni pasta (I use 6 ounces because I like a higher sauce-to-pasta ratio)
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef, breaking it up as you cook. Still on medium heat, cook the beef until it is brown and little bits stick to the bottom of the pot. Remember: Brown equals flavor. Add the diced onion, celery, and carrot. Add the nutmeg and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the wine and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Simmer over low heat about 20 minutes or until the wine is reduced by half. (The time this takes depends on the quality of your Dutch oven. Good ones cook faster.)

Add the chicken stock and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the stock is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 70 to 90 minutes or until the sauce is thick and meaty and not much liquid remains. Add salt and pepper to taste, and red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve over pasta. I toss some of the sauce with the cooked, well-drained pasta and put the rest in a bowl for guests to add more sauce if they like.

Have a bowl of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on the table. This recipe can be doubled.

NOTE: To blanch tomatoes for sauce: Wash the tomatoes, remove the stems, and score an X on the bottom of each. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower them into a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the skins pull off easily. Use the slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and put them into a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, use your fingers to pull off the skins. Put the tomatoes on a cutting board—not a flat one or the juices will run all over the place—and cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds, then dice.

COOK’S NOTES: This recipe is “slow food,” and because it takes a while, I usually make the Bolognese the day before I plan to serve it. It also tastes better the second day. (Just don’t add the pasta until you serve it.) Sometimes my husband just eats the Bolognese alone, in a bowl, with a hot, buttered baguette on the side. He also likes to add a lot of hot pepper flakes, but his mouth is flame-proof.