So, even though I was raised in a primarily Greek household, we do not screw around with tomato sauce, bolognese, etc. etc. Italian and Greek cuisines have a lot of similar ingredients and they typically marry together to make incredible dishes.
One of my best friends from college just had a beautiful baby boy two weeks go and I wanted to make her a meal that’s hearty, somewhat healthy, and easy to warm and enjoy. I figured I’d make her a lasagna (because who doesn’t love a lasagna?!?!?!) with a twist.
I’m not going to go into specifics of the actual lasagna-creation process, but I think that this sauce is incredibly adaptable and would go well with raviolis, gnocchi, regular pasta, stuffed shells, etc.
I added the spinach as a way to give my girlfriend some extra vitamins to share with her precious son. Hopefully she loves eating this as much as I loved creating it.
This sauce is a combo of what I learned from my mom, personal preference, and keeping my friend in mind. I’ll discuss substitutions and places to pause as I go along in case you want a richer sauce, deeper sauce, sweeter sauce, etc.
Triple Tomato & Spinach Bolognese Sauce
- 1/2 c. olive oil (I personally use garlic infused olive oil with some grapeseed oil to raise the temperature at which the oil may burn…olive oil can be finicky with heat)
- 1 shallot, finely minced (I like shallot because of its delicate onion taste. Feel free to use 1 small white or yellow onion if you prefer)
- 4-6 gloves of garlic, depending on how much of a fiend for garlic you are…maybe even 8 if you’re feeling frisky?
- 1 tsp. each of dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, pepper, and salt
- a pinch of red pepper flakes (if you want some warmth) or 1/2 tsp Vesta dry hot sauce (tried this in Brooklyn and it changed my life)
- 1 tsp. of sugar
- 1 28oz. can of your favorite crushed tomatoes, preferably with no salt added (as I learned from my inspiration, Giada de Laurentiis, it’s best to be able to control your own salt content)
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste (preferably good quality in a squeeze bottle)
- 1 lb. ground beef (I used 90% fat beef, but personal preference can dictate which type you use. Meatloaf mix or ground turkey could be good, too)
- 1 bag of baby spinach
- 1/2 c. FRESH basil leaves, chopped to your liking
- additional salt and pepper to taste
~ Warm the oil in a saute pan on medium-low heat. Add the minced shallots and cook until lightly browned. Next, add the minced garlic, dried spices, salt, pepper, and heat if you desire. Stir together for a few minutes, keeping an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn.
~ Add the sugar and tomato paste (tomato type #1) at this point. If I were making a deeper, richer sauce, I’d skip the sugar at this juncture and add about 1/2 c. of dry red wine. Typically, I use Cabernet Sauvignon. There is then plenty enough to enjoy over the course of the evening. 🙂 Allow the red wine to reduce down and make a syrupy sauce.
~ After the tomato paste and sugar are incorporated into the mixture, add the quartered cherry tomatoes (#2!!). Increase burner temp to medium now. Add the ground beef at this point, too, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon. It should look something like this:
~ Once the meat is browned, dump the entire bag of baby spinach on top of this heavenly mixture. Lower the heat a bit. Cover and allow the spinach to wilt; this should probably take less than 5 minutes. Incorporate the wilted spinach into the sauce and stir.
~ Add the third type of tomato (hence, the triple tomato) — the canned crushed tomatoes. Turn up the heat to medium and allow the sauce to come to a low simmer. Reduce heat again to low, cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes or so. The longer you let it sit and simmer at this point, the deeper the flavors will be.
~Remove from the heat and stir in fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper if you think it’s needed at this juncture.
~ Now, go forth and use with creativity…and try to keep from eating the entire pan of sauce with a hunk of bread. But that’s acceptable behavior, too.
How gorgeous is this finished product!!!?????!?!?!