Ask anyone following a low carb lifestyle what they miss most and the answer is likely to be Italian food or bread… or both. As we cut carbs it’s really important not to cut flavor — in fact, if you are anything like me you’ll do best if you increase flavor. Well sir, that is just exactly what this recipe for low carb Bolognese sauce does.
Did I say low carb Bolognese sauce? Yes I did. And it’s so good you can serve it over regular pasta for the family, if you want.
I like it over spaghetti squash when I have had a very low carb day (spaghetti squash can have a lot of carbs for a low carb veggie, relatively speaking) or over cooked cauliflower, or shredded cooked cabbage… or…sometimes I even eat it like a soup by adding a bit more broth. I like a little chopped basil and shredded Parmesan, too.
Needless to say this stuff is delicious. It will quell the strongest craving for Italian food.
If you’ve never had it then you may be thinking of something akin to the meat sauce on your favorite pasta but you’d be wrong. Bolognese is very meaty. The tomato flavor is more of an enhancement to give sweetness and tang to the sauce. The vegetables and wine add fresh midnotes of flavor, while the cream gives it a rich, silky finish. Honestly, the meat is the star of this show. You can add a little chopped bacon or Pancetta if you like — or you can use a combination of ground or minced meats. Beef, lamb, and pork is traditional. I personally like it with just the beef.
If you don’t find it absolutely addictive then you are among the minority.
Here’s the thing — Bolognese has to simmer a very, very long time so that the flavor can develop. In this age of almost instant fast food and microwave meals it can be overwhelming to contemplate simmering a sauce for nearly three hours! If you want the flavor to come through you have to be patient. Yes, you can make it in a slow cooker but to be totally honest it isn’t as good.
Low carb Bolognese sauce is perfect to make on one of those chilly days when you are going to be home for a long stretch. Double or triple the recipe and freeze it in batches if you want to. You won’t need any scented candles burning – the whole house will smell like your Gramma’s Italian kitchen, or at least what it would have smelled like if she had and Italian kitchen.
Low Carb Bolognese Sauce for Spaghetti Squash or Cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions chopped
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 cup fruity red wine such as Merlot or Zinfandel
- 3 cups beef stock check carbs - should be 0
- 3 Tbsp . tomato paste
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 lbs spaghetti squash or cauliflower cooked, not included in nutritional info.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat.
- Let the pan get good and hot.
- Add onions, celery, and carrots.
- Let them caramelize a little on all sides.
- Sauté until soft, 8-10 minutes.
- Add beef and sauté until browned, breaking it up with the back of a spoon.
- Add wine and bring to a boil.
- Boil 1 minute, stirring often and scraping up browned bits with the spatula.
- Add 2 1/2 cups stock and the tomato paste.
- Whisk until smooth.
- Reduce heat to very low and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Bring cream to a simmer.
- Gradually add to sauce, stirring constantly.
- Cover sauce with a lid, keeping it slightly ajar, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cream is absorbed (about 45 minutes). Add more stock by 1/4-cupfuls if it gets too thick.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan and chopped, fresh basil if desired.
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