Weeknight Bolognese with Fettuccine

Weeknight Bolognese with Fettuccine

Pasta sauce is the ultimate veggie vehicle.

I just love how you can sneak in all sorts of delicious vegetables & not even notice. Not that vegetables need hiding, but hey you might as well bump up the nutrients in your pasta sauce if you can!

Finely chopped mushrooms blend particularly well with bolognese sauce.

When the cook down, they look just like the little chunks of ground beef, so you can’t even tell they’re in there! I use regular white button mushrooms since they have the mildest flavor. It’s a great way to add more fiber and some vitamin D to your meal.

Finely diced carrots also cook down to a nice soft texture, and the bright orange color blends in with the vibrantly red tomatoes.

The result is a thick and hearty bolognese sauce that coats each strand of noodles and is absolutely packed with flavor.

How good does that look??

Easy Weeknight Bolognese with Fettuccine

This recipe is for a quick and easy weeknight bolognese.

Sure, a true bolognese that simmers for hours on the stove is what dreams are made of, but that’s not super realistic for a weeknight.

Luckily, you can still get a rich and complex sauce in under 30 minutes by using dried herbs, high quality canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and red wine.

I love this meaty sauce tossed with thick fettuccine noodles, but feel free to use whatever noodles you want. This meal is a crowd pleaser, and also makes great leftovers – the flavors deepen as it sits.

Close Up Weeknight Bolognese in a Bowl

Weeknight Bolognese with Fettuccine
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 lb ground beef, 85% lean
  • 4 oz white button mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and finely chopped
  • 2 whole carrots, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup dry red wine, like Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus extra to taste
  • 1 lb dried fettuccine pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the ground beef and saute for about a minute, breaking up with a spatula as you stir. Once the meat is broken up and just starting to brown, add the mushrooms and carrots and continue to cook until the meat is nicely browned and there are no liquid juices left in the pan.
  2. While the meat browns, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  3. Next, add the garlic, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste to the pan with the meat along with an extra splash of olive oil. Saute for about a minute, stirring, until the garlic is nice and fragrant.
  4. Add 1 cup of the red wine, the tomatoes, salt, and pepper to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Let simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, add the fettuccine to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente. When the pasta is done, drain and lightly toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent it from sticking while you finish the pasta sauce.
  6. To finish the sauce, stir in the nutmeg, heavy cream, and 1/4 cup wine. Let simmer for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve up the pasta into bowls, top with the bolognese sauce, extra Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Inspired by Ina Garten’s Weeknight Bolognese recipe. 

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Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu

Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu

Tender noodles coated with a creamy sesame-peanut sauce, tossed with crispy tofu pieces, refreshing cucumber and bell pepper, and brought together with a pop of fresh cilantro and sesame seeds.

Sounds delicious, right?

Good. Because it’s what I’m bringing to you in this latest blog post:

Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu

Chilled pasta salads are a great way to mix up a boring spaghetti routine.

Yeah, you’re still eating pasta, but somehow, serving it cold makes it feel like a new, exciting, and refreshing dish.

Especially if you stray away from the typical Italian flavors, and go Asian instead. Plus, Chinese egg noodles cook even MORE quickly than Italian pasta. Win win.

Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu and Sriracha

Peanut sesame noodles hit all the right notes.

Okay, I have a picky palate, so rather than just combine oil, vinegar, peanut butter, and tahini, I prefer a more complex sauce spiced up with fresh ginger, garlic, and shallot.

Andrew Zimmern (of Bizarre Foods fame) published a recipe for authentic Sichuan noodles with the most amaaaaazing peanut sesame sauce, and ever since making it, I can’t use any other sauce.

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu and Vegetables

So, this noodle salad features Andrew’s perfection of a sauce, plus some extra veggies and tofu to make it a meal instead of a side dish. (Thanks Andrew!)

This meal does require a lot of chopping, but I promise the end results are worth it. Don’t skimp on those sauce ingredients… the sauce is what makes the dish! It’s the perfect balance of salty and savory with a hint of acid and sweetness. And it does a wonderful job of coating the noodles, veggies, and tofu without feeling gloopy.

The final dish is a refreshing, light noodle salad with tons of flavor.

Trust me, this one is a crowd pleaser.

Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu - Overhead Shot

Chilled Peanut Noodle Salad with Crispy Tofu
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 6
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • 14 oz extra firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 5 tablespoons roasted, unrefined peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12.3 ounces medium Chinese egg noodles
  • 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, cut into small matchsticks
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into small matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup minced cilantro
  • Sesame seeds, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Take the tofu block out of the watery brine and dab it with paper towels to dry it off. Wrap the tofu in a fresh set of paper towels, set on a plate, and place something heavy, like a large cookbook or small saucepan on top to "press" the liquid out. Let sit for 15 minutes while you prep the sauce.
  2. To make the sauce, add the ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, granulated sugar, rice vinegar, dry sherry, garlic, tahini, shallot, and 3 tablespoons of peanut oil to a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl and place in the refrigerator while you finish prepping the rest of the meal.
  3. Unwrap the tofu and discard the paper towels. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Pour the 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a large nonstick skillet and warm over high heat. Add the tofu and pan fry on all sides until golden brown. Remove the crispy tofu to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  4. Next, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the egg noodles. Cook according to package directions, until al dente (4 minutes, for the brand I used). Drain the noodles in a colander and run under cold water until the noodles are cooled. Shake to drain any excess water and blot dry with paper towels. Transfer to a large serving bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil.
  5. Add the refrigerated peanut sauce to the bowl of noodles and toss to coat well. Add the crispy tofu, cucumber, bell pepper, and cilantro. Toss again lightly to combine. Scoop into individual serving bowls, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy!

Inspired by Cold Peanut-Sesame Noodles from Food & Wine Magazine / Andrew Zimmern

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Carrot Top and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta

Carrot Top and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Did you know that 40% of the food grown in the US doesn’t even get eaten?

Instead, it rots on shelves or goes straight to the landfill.

This is such a ginormous waste, and a travesty when so many of our neighbors go hungry at night.

I know, food waste is a tough issue to tackle, and it has many causes, but each and every one of us can make an impact by taking an honest look at how much food we are throwing away in our own homes.

Typically, we throw away food in 2 ways:

  1. You purchase food but don’t end up using it, so it goes bad in the back of the fridge.
  2. You cooked the food but made too much, and the leftovers sit until they’re thrown out.

I’ll admit it, I’m definitely guilty of both of these things on occasion. But typically, I take some time out of my week to do my best to prevent food waste in my home.

Carrot Top and Pumpkin Seed Pesto with Pasta Shells

The number one way I do this is menu planning.

Each week, I pick out 5 dinners to make and create a shopping list for the ingredients I need.

Pro tip: cross-check your list with what’s already in your pantry so you don’t accidentally double-purchase something.

This helps SO MUCH with impulse buying.

Otherwise, it’s so easy to willy-nilly grab things off the shelves with perfectly good intentions, but no plan. Then, each day goes by and you think about how you “really meant to cook that swiss chard”, but now, five days later, it’s wilted and going bad.

So seriously, I really really recommend picking out recipes and assigning them to a specific day of the week. It takes away so much unnecessary stress, knowing you can come home to a fridge full of ingredients for a yummy easy home-cooked meal.

No more nagging thoughts of “What’s for dinner?” every night. You already know! Because you planned, and you bought everything ahead of time. And you’re officially adulting.

Carrot Top and Pumpkin Seed Pesto with Pasta and Parmesan Cheese

Another fun way to avoid food waste is to actually cook with parts of the plants many people throw away, like beet greens or carrot tops.

Yep, those parts of the plant are just as delicious and enjoyable as the root vegetables they are attached to.

Carrot tops make a mean pesto.

Sure, it’s different than basil-based pesto, but it holds its own with a uniquely fresh and vibrant flavor.

Plus, it’s cheap! I bet you were about to throw those tops straight into the garbage, so why not use them to stretch your dollar and make a whole ‘nother dinner out of them?

Just add the carrot tops to a mini food processor (this one is my favorite*) along with some pepitas (also cheap), garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Whir it all together with a few presses of a button, and voila, pesto is served. Toss with warm pasta and you’re good to go.

PS it’s really fun to make this and NOT tell anyone it’s made with carrot tops until they tell you how delicious it is!

Carrot Top and Pumpkin Seed Pesto with Conchiglie

Carrot Top and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6
Author: Erica Julson
Ingredients
  • Leaves without stems from the tops of 1 large bunch of carrots (about 2 cups, lightly packed)
  • 2 peeled cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup roasted salted pepitas, pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lb dried conchiglie pasta or other shell or tube shape like orecchiette, farfalle, or penne
Instructions
  1. Place the carrot tops, garlic, pepitas, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a mini food processor. Pulse until the pesto is evenly mixed but still a little bit chunky. Open the processor and scrape the ingredients down the side if needed.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta & cook according to package directions (usually about 9 minutes) until cooked to your liking. Drain, and place in a large bowl.
  3. Scrape the pesto out of the food processor and into the bowl of pasta. Use large utensils to toss until the pasta is well coated. Spoon into bowls and serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

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