Instead of taking all day to make the authentic version of the Italian classic, make this one-pan cheesy pasta Bolognese. It is just as satisfying and requires so much less dishwashing. It’s a perfect dish to add to your weeknight repertoire of simple, comforting meals with lots of flavor.
This recipe was originally published on February 16, 2015, and was republished in August 2020 to add better quality photos, re-test the recipe, and add more helpful tips.
Do you hate washing dishes? Me too. While I love cooking for my family, I hate having to clean up afterwards. Even the simplest of meals seems to create a giant pile of dishes next to the sink.
Which is why one-pot or one-pan meals are so awesome. I’m talking about the true one-pan meals. No fussy “cook this in the pan and then remove it to a bowl before adding this other ingredient”. Just a simple: cook some the ingredients, add the rest, and let it do its thing. All you’ll need is a cutting board, a knife, a pan, and a spatula (ok, maybe a grater too).
An amazing, knock-your-socks-off, authentic Bolognese might take you all day. A lot of time and love goes into the classic recipe prepared by Italian grandmothers for a wonderfully comforting dish. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a really tasty version in just over 30 minutes. You can have all the pleasure of this comforting meal, with none of the fuss.
Tricks to a successful one-pan pasta
The great thing about one-pan pastas, is that the noodles themselves absorb so much flavor. Because they are cooked right in the sauce, they pick up all the elements of the dish. But it also can be tricky to get the balance of sauce to al-dente pasta when cooking it all together. So here are a few tips I’ve picked up:
Lots of liquid
The pasta only has the sauce to absorb liquid from – and it need more than you think. Next time you are making pasta, compare the size of a dry noodle to a cooked one. You might be surprised. So you need more than just tomato sauce and a bit of wine to make a good one-pan pasta.
Soak up the extra sauce with bread
Unfortunately with one-pot pastas, you don’t just pour off the liquid when the pasta is the right texture. The liquid is the sauce. So it’s better to choose a sauce that still is really good when a little extra saucy. Bolognese is of course perfect for this. Have too much sauce? Just use some bread to soak up the rest. Maybe even some garlic bread for extra indulgence.
Use stock instead of water
I know it’s tempting to just use water to add the extra liquid you need, but take the extra step and add stock instead. That way your sauce doesn’t feel watered down. It will be rich and flavorful and the pasta plump and tender.
If you’re tired at the end of the day, but still want to make wholesome, satisfying meals for your family, one-pot dishes are the way to go. Quick, easy, no excess dishes to wash, and oh so comforting to eat. Plus, if there’s any left-over, it’s perfect for lunch the next day! All that reward for so little work. It doesn’t get any better than that.
One-Pan Cheesy Pasta Bolognese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion , diced
- 3/4 cup finely diced carrots
- 1 lb (450g) ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 28 oz. (800g) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 oz. (340g) whole wheat penne pasta
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese , divided
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add the ground beef and cook, breaking up into small pieces with a spoon, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the dried oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.
- Next, add the red wine and stir to combine. Add the Worcestershire sauce and canned tomatoes, stirring to combine. Pour in the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Add salt and pepper.
- Pour in water and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well. Cover the pan and cook until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
- When the pasta is tender, gently stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Scatter the remaining mozzarella evenly over the top. Turn off the heat. Place a lid over the pan and allow the mozzarella to melt, 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.