This healthy Bolognese Sauce recipe uses simple ingredients and is perfect to quickly cook up on busy weeknights. Pair the sauce with fresh zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a family comfort food meal that is gluten free and paleo friendly.
Growing up in Germany using packaged sauce powder was the norm for making sauces. The Bolognese sauce of my childhood was ground meat with water and powder.
I am sure there must have been some onion and tomato in the package, because it did turn into a reddish, and actually tasty sauce. Little did I know back then, that making healthy Bolognese sauce from scratch (with fresh ingredients instead of powdered preservatives) doesn't have to be complicated at all.
A few simple ingredients, like onion, carrot, sun-ripened tomatoes and ground meat, with just a few spices can produce a delicious easy Bolognese sauce. I love making Bolognese sauce in the summer, when I can use really ripe tomatoes fresh from the garden.
Other times, I will let my store-bought tomatoes ripen on the counter to make sure they also get really juicy and flavorful. In a pinch, canned diced tomatoes will do as well.
As much as I used to love pasta growing up, these days I try to balance my carb consumption. So I have finally jumped on the veggie noodle bandwagon.
We spiralize anything from zucchinis, other squashes and sweet potatoes to pair with by beloved homemade pasta sauces. Oftentimes I will make a pot of half whole wheat pasta and half zoodles.
How to make Healthy Bolognese Sauce
I call this a healthy bolognese recipe because there are no canned or packaged ingredients. And because the meat portion is balanced with a good amount of veggies.
Making the sauce starts with a mirepoix of onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. First, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
Then add the finely chopped carrot and celery until they start to soften. Then add the ground meat and brown it while breaking up large chunks.
A mixture of half pork and half beef is most traditional and makes the juiciest, most tender meat sauce. However, feel free to substitute with your preferred ground meat. Ground turkey or chicken will work too in this recipe.
Once the ground meat has browned a little, add the diced tomatoes (fresh or canned), broth and spices to the pan. Aside from salt and pepper I use oregano or an Italian herb mix.
Stir everything together and bring the sauce to a boil. Then turn the heat down to low and let the bolognese sauce simmer down until it thickens.
This takes about 15-20 minutes. Stir the simple bolognese sauce a few times while it is simmering.
Then it is ready to serve over pasta. Here you can use regular noodles, zucchini pasta (zoodles), or other gluten free pasta alternatives.
How to store homemade Bolognese Sauce
Whenever I am making this homemade Bolognese sauce, I like to prepare a double match. It doesn't take all that much longer and I end up with extra spaghetti sauce to freeze for the next time.
I transfer the extra sauce to a freezer safe, airtight container. Stored this way the Bolognese sauce will last at least 4-6 months in the freezer.
More Healthy Pasta Recipes
Healthy Bolognese Sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 carrots finely chopped (can also use 1 carrot + 1 celery stalk)
- 1 lb. ground meat preferably half pork + half beef, but any will work
- 3 cups diced tomatoes sun ripened fresh tomatoes are my preference
- 1 cup broth
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- sea salt + black pepper
- 4 zucchinis spiralized into spaghetti shape
- Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the finely chopped carrot (and celery) and cook until softened.
- Now add the ground meat to the pan. Cook it while stirring to break up large chunks.
- Once the meat is no longer pink, you can add the diced tomatoes and broth together with the spices. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer until the sauce has thickened substantially (15-20 minutes). Stir occasionally.
- In the meantime, spiralize the zucchini into spaghetti-like strands. Rule of thumb is one zucchini per person.
- You could simply spoon the hot Bolognese sauce over the raw zucchini to soften it. I like my meals very hot though. So I will heat the zoodles in a pan with a teaspoon of oil, before arranging in plates and topping with the Bolognese.
- Bolognese sauce is one of those dishes that tastes even better reheated on the next day. So you can definitely make a double-batch for later use.
Pin Healthy Bolognese Sauce recipe for later?
Bolognese can be healthy depending on the ingredients used. Opt for lean meats, plenty of vegetables, and whole grain or vegetable-based pasta for a healthier option.
Lean beef is generally better for bolognese as it has less fat content. However, some prefer the flavor and texture of fattier beef for a richer sauce.
Bolognese calorie content varies based on ingredients. Lean meat, abundant vegetables, and controlled portion sizes can help keep calorie count moderate.
Bolognese's rich flavor comes from the combination of aromatic vegetables, herbs, and slow-cooked meat. The blending of these flavors creates a satisfying and hearty taste.