Pasta bolognese

A bowl of pasta bolognese
Recipe credit

USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

About this recipe

Serving size
1 cup
Time to make
1 hour 45 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 carrot (scrubbed and diced into 1/4-inch pieces)
  • 1 celery stalk (chopped into 1/4-inch pieces)
  • 1 yellow onion (peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef (80-85% lean)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cans 14.5-ounce low-sodium crushed or diced tomatoes (including liquid)
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium tomato paste
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 8 ounces whole wheat pasta
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. To cook the Bolognese sauce: Put skillet on the stove over medium heat and when it is hot, add oil. Add carrot, celery, and onion and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to brown. Raise the heat to high. Pinch off tablespoon-size pieces of the beef and add a few at a time, stirring well between additions. Cook, breaking the meat apart until it is no longer raw, starts to give off liquid, and no longer clumps together, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water, tomatoes, and tomato paste, stirring well.  Cook about 10 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
  3. Slowly stir in the milk, a little bit at a time. Turn the heat down to low and cook 45 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  4. To cook the pasta: fill a large pot halfway with water. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and about 12 minutes cook until just tender. Drain the pasta and divide into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with about ¾ cup Bolognese and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Serve right away.

Tips and variations

  • One portion equals 1 cup cooked pasta + ¾ cup sauce.
  • Freeze leftover sauce for up to 1 month.

Nutritional info

Total fat
6 g
Saturated fat
2 g
23 mg
114 mg
Total carbohydrates
47 g
Dietary fiber
8 g
16 g
Total sugar
3 g