Beef bolognese

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Beef bolognese

My wife and I have been eating a mostly plant-based diet, with limited dairy and fish, for most of this year and enjoying the adventure.

Recently, however, I noticed that 1 1/2 pounds of ground grass-fed beef from Marin Sun Farms was taking up space in our freezer. We bought this a while ago when en route back from a hike at Point Reyes. Seeing as how the cow had already emitted whatever green house gases cows emit and I didn't want to waste food, I decided to make a simple beef bolognese, learning something about fresh herbs in the process.

I found a number of recipes online that took 4 to 5 hours. I modified one I found from Bon Appetit, which was quite basic. I have to admit, this tasted good. Maybe I will do this again annually.

Servings: 8


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground, grass-fed beef
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup milk (could be cow but I used almond milk and, believe it or not, it worked)
  • 2 ounces tagliatelle or fettuccine per serving
  • Grated parmesan, for garnish


  1. Heat the olive in a big saucepan then saute the onions, celery, and carrot until soft.  
  2. Add the ground beef.  Break up with a large spoon and cook until browned, about fifteen minutes.  
  3. Add the wine, bring to a boil, and cook for about a minute, scraping up the brown bits. Add about 2 1/2 cups of the broth, thyme, and tomato paste then stir to combine. Let simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. 
  4. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan.  
  5. Add to the bolognese, mostly cover, and let simmer for about 45 minutes until the milk is incorporated.  
  6. Add a little more stock as needed so it doesn't get too dry. 
  7. Cook the pasta in salted water, drain, and mix with the appropriate amount of sauce given what you are going to freeze in quart-size freezer bags for quick dinners in the future.  
  8. Top with a little freshly grated parmesan. 


And now for a quick lesson on herbs:

Picking the leaves off of fresh thyme is sort of tedious, even when you can "strip" the leaves from the stem, as I usually break the stem in the process.

I just threw a bunch of fresh thyme from my garden, stems and all, into the bolognese at the beginning.

By the time it had cooked and simmered, the leaves had all fallen off and all I had to do was fish out the stems with some tongs. I've used this technique since with some pizza sauce and cherry tomato sauce. It works.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 460
  • Total fat: 14 g
  • Saturated fat: 4.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 60 mg
  • Sodium: 170 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 51 g
  • Dietary fiber: 3 g
  • Total sugars: 7 g
  • Protein: 28 g
Note: Calculated using 90% lean ground beef