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  • Andy


Updated: Apr 27, 2020

When I was first trying out making a pasta gravy as I was told by many of my first and second-generation Italian friends, "everyone thinks it takes cans and cans of tomatoes and pints and pints of fresh tomatoes and actually it's a few tablespoons of tomato paste and very good red wine". What I found out that you can go the route of lots of tomatoes stewing for days and get a great gravy (sauce) or for the quick way and get the same great taste, use tomato paste, and red wine.

Here is the Veggie Bolognese first:


8 oz of bag carrots

1 medium red onion

1 medium red pepper, yellow or orange is fine BUT no green

1 cup of dried mushrooms, I use Costco Dried Mushroom blend

6 to 8 cloves of garlic

6 stems of fresh Oregano and Thyme

2 hand fulls of fresh Italian parsley

little more than half an 8 oz tub of the coffee mascarpone cheese, yes the coffee one

5 oz tub of Asiago cheese

8 tablespoons of Tomato paste: its about 1 1/2 6 oz cans

2 cups of hot veggie stock - low salt

1 1/2 cups of good red wine, if you would not drink it do not cook with it

1/4 cup of olive oil

salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste - I like my sauces to have a kick to them

1 pound of your favorite dried pasta

1 cup of each, Shitake, Cremini, and mini portabella mushrooms

1 large zucchini


Place the dried Mushroom mix into the hot veggie stock and set aside

Remove the leaves from the Oregano and thyme stems and set aside, you can rough chop them if you want but why bother

Rough chop the parsley removing the stems and set aside

Rough chop the onion and pepper and like before set aside

Place the baby carrots into a food processor and pulse until the carrots are the size of rice, then remove from the food processor.

Next, add the onion and the pepper to the food processor and pulse into diced, do not puree them.

The idea is that you want the carrots, onion, and pepper to have the texture of ground meat.

Now clean and rough chop the three mushrooms, you want them chunky.

Now roughly chop the zucchini.

if you have not guested I like to get all the prep done first before I start cooking. I do this when we have our dinner parties; I tape all the recipes to the cabinets review all the items that need to be chopped and do that all first. Also, I tried to use recipes that have similar ingredients so I do not end up with mountains of little bowls everywhere.

In a large skillet and I do mean large, that has been heated to medium-high place the olive oil and then quickly add the carrots, cook until they start to soften about 5 minutes. Add the onion and pepper and cook until all three are soften and their water content has reduced by almost half.

Start boiling the water for the pasta.

Now add the garlic and the oregano and thyme and heat for about 30 seconds: while this is heating drain the dried mushrooms but retain the liquid.

Add them to the veggie mix, stir. reduce heat to medium.

Now add the tomato paste and stir until melted into the mixture.

Next, add the rough chopped 3 mushrooms and the zucchini and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until the newly added veggies are now soft.

Pour in the reserved veggie stock and red wine, raise heat to high and bring to a boil: now you understand why I said a really large skillet. Once it was been brought to a boil, reduce heat to low and let simmer uncovered until the liquid has reduced by a 3rd. about 10 minutes

In this time I would start cooking the pasta

After this point is where I add the salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, remember to taste first before you add the salt. The tomato paste and stock have salt in them.

Once reduced stir in the mascarpone cheese and about half of the asiago cheese and the parsley. Keep stirring until the cheese has melted into the sauce.

Drain pasta after it has be been cooked as instructed on the package and in a really big bowl combine pasta and sauce and toss.

Serve and add the balance of the asiago cheese.

Now the meat sauce, it's about the same only I remove the carrots, switch out some stuff and add a few other items.



4 Shallots

1 1/2 pounds of lean ground beef or Lamb: if using lamb increase the shallots by 2

1 medium red pepper

1 cup of dried Mushroom mix

12 to 16 cloves of garlic, rough chopped - yes its allot but you'll see why

6 stems of fresh Oregano and Thyme

2 hand fulls of fresh Italian parsley

Little more than half of an 8oz coffee mascarpone cheese

5 oz tub of Asiago cheese

8 tablespoons of tomato paste

2 cups of hot beef stock - low salt

1 1/2 cups of red wine

6 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.

1 pound of your favorite dried pasta

1 cup of cherry tomatoes


In a large skillet, remember a very large skillet, add two table spoons of olive oil and the ground meat, over medium-high cook meat until a light brown and still slightly pink, trust me about this you do not want to cook the meat until its all brown.

Remove from heat and add 6 to 8 cloves of garlic and stir set aside.

Prep all the items as instructed above in the veggie version, minus the carrots, three mushrooms, and zucchini.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Drain the cooked meat and set aside.

Using the same skillet, do not clean it, a big no-no.

Add Shallots, peppers and two table spoons of olive oil, over medium-high heat and cook until soft, reduce heat to medium

stir in fresh oregano, thyme, and 6 to 8 cloves of garlic and heat for 30 seconds at this point drain mushroom mix a retain liquid.

Add mushroom mixture to skillet, cook for 2 minutes.

Start water for pasta

Next, add the tomato paste and mix until melted.

Stir in cooked meat.

Add beef stock and red wine, raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid as reduced by a 3rd.

While sauce is simmering place cherry tomatoes in a zip lock bag with the remain two table spoons of Olive oil and shake until tomatoes are coated. Dump tomatoes onto a cookie sheet and place in oven. Roast tomatoes until the burst the remove from oven and sprinkle with some of the fresh chopped parsley and set aside on a cooling rack.

When the tomatoes are in the oven start the pasta.

Once the sauce has reduced I salt and pepper to taste, next add the mascarpone cheese and half the Asiago cheese and the remaining parsley and stir until cheeses have melted.

Drain pasta once cooks as instructed on the package and add to a very large bowl, add sauce, and toss. Now add the cherry tomatoes and remaining Asiago cheese and serve.

Note: I know that there is a real term for some of these variations other then bolognese but hey I am not an Italian Chef, I am just a cook from New York City that loves cooking.

Enjoy cooking

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