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Sausage Bolognese

When Paige turned four-years-old a few months ago, she had a pretty simple request for dinner: pasta.

Like many kids, she and Will adore pasta, calling it one of their favorite foods (along with salad, broccoli and chocolate). And they aren’t just talking about macaroni and cheese. They love it so many ways — such as in carbonara or pasta with shrimp and kale.

Of course, I obliged the birthday request, making a trio of pastas for dinner. Paige was in heaven.

The birthday dinner selections included this Sausage Bolognese, a hearty, rich sauce that is simmered for about an hour to allow the flavors to really develop. Bolognese is a longtime favorite of mine. When made right, it develops an incredible meaty richness that is irresistible. When I saw loose sweet Italian sausage at a favorite market just before Paige’s birthday, I was totally inspired to combine her love of anything with sausage with my love of bolognese. It was a huge hit.

If the original version I made was good, this version which has been further tweaked to get it just right is amazing. With diced tomatoes for a little more texture and good red wine for that richness, it’s both filling and satisfying — the perfect combination. The fresh basil in the sauce brightens it up a little so that it’s not too heavy, as meat sauces can sometimes be.

Of course, this isn’t a weeknight dinner.

This sauce needs to simmer for a while. So, save this recipe for the weekend when you have some time to spare. It’s largely hands-off cooking, but not being pressed for time is an important thing when it comes to making longer cooking time dishes like this.

What’s your favorite pasta dish? 

Sausage Bolognese

Sausage Bolognese

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 lb loose sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with basil
  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup good quality red wine
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, , to taste
  • pinch sugar


  1. Brown the sweet Italian sausage in a heavy stockpot. Drain off the grease.
  2. Add the tomatoes, paste, water, red wine, basil and bay leaf. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cover and simmer for at least 1 hour.
  3. Serve over pasta.

More from Sarah Walker Caron of Sarah’s Cucina Bella


Wednesday 11th of January 2012

I think kids have some sort of pasta gene. I know when I was young one of my favorite dinners was goat cheese and pasta. My mom would put the goat cheese on the plate and put the hot pasta over and we'd swirl it around till it was creamy!


Wednesday 11th of January 2012

That sounds awesome! I hope you do that with your little guy when he gets older.

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