Pasta with a “quick” bolognese sauce & homemade garlic toast

A small bowl contains whole wheat spiral pasta with a homemade red meat sauce (bolognese), with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and sliced green onion. Two square pieces of garlic bread rest on the rectangular, white plate beneath this. A fork with a rainbow-coloured handle sits in front of this display on a blue table cloth.I needed a break from all the Alfredo sauce I’ve had of late, as well as all the chicken! So tonight, I whipped up an old standby and a new dish for me.

Old standby: Pasta with a “quick” bolognese sauce.

New item: Homemade garlic-onion toast.

The garlic-onion toast was more out of necessity than anything: I had a French loaf that was going to go moldy if I didn’t make use of it tonight. So I cut it in half, slapped half of it in the freezer, then slathered this one with the fixin’s and broiled it. Here’s what I did for both…

“Quick” Bolognese Sauce

This isn’t quick as in “finish in 10 minutes”. All told, I think it took me 30-40 minutes, but that’s about 6-12 hours shorter than a real bolognese might take. I don’t have time to allow a good sauce to sit and simmer all day long, sadly, so this sauce was born.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs lean or extra lean ground beef, seasoned, browned, drained
  • 1 Tbsp butter + 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 slices of bacon (I use the pre-cooked stuff that more or less takes 2 minutes to cook up/crisp up)
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 2 C beef broth (you can also use 1-1.5 C and make up the rest with red wine)
  • 2 tsp roasted red pepper paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 good pinches of white sugar (yes, white sugar)
  • seasonings to your taste, but here’s what I used (rough approximations):
    • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
    • 1/2 Tbsp dried basil
    • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1-2 Tbsp garlic powder
    • 2 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp thyme
    • 1/2 tsp sage
    • 1 pinch cinnamon
    • salt to taste
  • 1/4 C milk or cream

Method

  1. In a large pot, saute the onion and celery until soft. Add the bacon and cook until nearly crispy. Drain any unnecessary grease, then stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the beef and milk/cream.
  2. A large pot of bolognese sauce bubbles on a stove with a wooden spoon sticking out  of it.Raise the heat and bring this to a boil. At this point, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and carefully blend with a wand blender until you get the consistency you want.
  4. Put the pot back on the low heat. Stir in the milk and ground beef. Heat until everything is heated through.
  5. Serve over favourite pasta.

Homemade Garlic-Onion Toast

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large French or Italian loaf of bread
  • 1/4 C butter, partially softened/melted
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • additional garlic powder (as desired)
  • onion powder (as desired)
  • shredded cheese (I used mozzarella and parmesan)
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped

Method

A large loaf of garlic-onion bread.

  1. Get the broiler going in your oven and set a rack on the second to last position from the top.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix the butter and 2 Tbsp of butter really well until smooth.
  3. Use a spatula to spread the garlic butter over the entire half-loaf.
  4. Sprinkle additional garlic powder to taste, as well as some onion powder. (You might want to taste the garlic butter first to make sure it’s  not already strong enough.)
  5. Spread the cheese evenly over the buttered surface.
  6. Sprinkle the green onion evenly over the top of the cheese.
  7. Set the whole loaf on a cookie sheet and place on that top rack beneath the broiler.
  8. Broil for 3-5 minutes, keeping a very close eye on it! Check it after the first minute or two, to be sure. When it’s done, the cheese should melt and just begin to turn golden/bubble.
  9. Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes, then cut into squares/rectangles with a large knife.
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