Baked Penne Bolognese

"from The Orange County Register, March 2008"
photo by a user photo by a user
Ready In:
1hr 35mins




  • Preheat a 3-quart lidded sauté pan or pot over medium-high heat.
  • Drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Coat the pan with the oil and throw in the ground meat. With a wooden or plastic spatula, break up the meat so it browns. This will take about 7-10 minutes, depending on the meat you're using. If it's fatty you'll need to drain the grease.
  • Toss in the dried herbs and the onion and mix it all in well with the meat. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onions are pliable; add garlic.
  • Stir cans of tomatoes and the puree well into the meat mixture. Bring to a gentle simmer, give it one more good stir, cover, lower the heat and let all those ingredients get happy together. Let simmer for about 30 minutes (or even an hour if you have the time).
  • Two things to do while the sauce is coming together: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and fill a big pot with water and bring it to a boil. When you have about 10 minutes left on the sauce, take a large pinch of salt and dump it into the boiling water along with a tablespoon of olive oil and, finally, the pasta. Cook the pasta about 3/4 of the time it says on the box, so that it is very "al dente."
  • When there are just a few minutes left on the sauce, pour in the sugar and the wine. Doesn't matter what kind of wine, as long as it's red. Mix in these two ingredients and let the sauce cook a few more minutes while you drain the pasta.
  • After you've drained the pasta, put it in a 3-quart (such as a 9-by-13-inch) baking dish and pour in as much of the sauce as you like. You will likely have leftover sauce – use it again for pasta or even with green beans. Be creative. Mix the sauce and pasta well, and cover the top with the cheese. A nice sprinkling of dry oregano or basil will add taste and visual appeal.
  • Put the dish in the bottom rack of the oven and let it cook for 25 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and just starting to brown. Carefully remove the dish, and set it aside. Thinly slice some fresh basil and set the table while the dish cools for 5 to 10 minutes.

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