An Italian pasta sauce recipe : bolognese with tagliatelle

A spaghetti bolognese recipe really doesn’t exist in Italy.  The closest is this delicious Italian pasta sauce recipe, eaten with tagliatelle.

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Why isn’t this a spaghetti bolognese recipe?

Spaghetti bolognese was a creation specifically for the consumer market outside Italy, simply because at the time most non-Italians were familiar with spaghetti but not with other types of pasta.

However, an authentic Italian pasta sauce recipe would never use spaghetti for this dish - it’s just too thin and slippery, so the sauce won’t cling properly to it.

The most popular pasta to accompany a Bolognese sauce, and the one which was used in the original recipe from Bologna in northern Italy, is a wider ‘ribbon’ pasta like tagliatelle, lasagne or fettucine.

Nor does a true Bolognese ragù contain cream or mushrooms as do a lot of spaghetti bolognese recipes. It’s a simple dish made with a mixture of meats and left to cook for many hours.

About this Italian pasta sauce recipe.

This recipe is much quicker than a traditional ragù which is often simmered for seven or eight hours. It uses a mixture of meats to give a very different flavour and texture than the American or British versions of the dish.

If your family don’t like pork, you can use either lamb or chicken, although the taste won’t be quite the same. 

The Italian recipe doesn’t include garlic but we do sometimes add it - use only a little so as not to detract from the meat’s flavours.


These amounts will serve 6 people as a main course.

✮  1 carrot

✮  2 sticks of celery

Spaghetti bolognese recipe

✮  1 large onion

✮  4 tablespoons olive oil

✮  500 grammes (1 lb / 2 cups) minced (ground) beef

✮  500 grammes (1 lb / 2 cups) minced (ground) pork

✮  700 ml bottle of sieved tomatoes (‘passata)

✮  2 tablespoons tomato puree

✮  200 ml chicken stock

✮  2 glasses dry red wine (optional)

✮  Salt and pepper

How to make it.

✮  Peel and finely chop the onion and celery

✮  Grate the peeled carrots and mix with the onion and celery

✮  Fry all this very gently in the olive oil until softened

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✮  Add the pork and beef and make sure the meat is crumbled, not clumped together

✮  Season now with salt and pepper to taste - this brings out the moisture from both the meat and the vegetables

✮  Add the wine and leave the mixture to boil gently for five minutes. This makes the alcohol evaporate but leaves the taste

✮  Now add the passata for a smooth texture, or some chopped tomatoes if you prefer a rougher taste

✮  Add the beef stock and tomato paste and leave to cook for ninety minutes

✮  At the very end of the cooking time, add salt and pepper if needed. The sauce should now be thick and all the flavours will be mixed well together.

Making the pasta.

✮  For a really good authentic Italian pasta sauce recipe learn how to make pasta, and use it fresh.

✮  Fresh pasta will only take ninety seconds to cook, so don’t make it until the sauce is ready.

✮  After you’ve cooked the pasta for one minute, drain it and add the pasta to the sauce (not the other way round!) Toss it together (stirring it will break the pasta) and leave to cook for another thirty seconds.

✮  Any water remaining in the pasta will be soaked up, the pasta will be thoroughly coated by the sauce and all the flavours will mingle well together.

✮  Don’t make too much sauce - have just enough to coat the pasta.  If you’ve made too much it will freeze well.

Italian pasta sauce recipe

Buon Appetito!

Not a meat eater?  Try this delicious authentic Italian pasta recipe : lemon and garlic prawns.

Don’t buy dried pasta - have fun making your own! Find out here how to make the basis of all our Italian pasta dishes.

More Italian pasta recipes here!