Dairy- Free Bolognese
I love bolognese. It’s my go-to Italian dish in LA. I used to like it super chunky but after having so many different variations here, I discovered that bolognese is actually really good when it’s a little creamy. Not too creamy though. I’ve made many versions of bolognese, never keeping track of measurements until now. I have always just tasted as I cooked and added whatever was needed in the moment. Earlier this year, I dated someone who believed he had Celiac and was also allergic to dairy. I wanted to make him a diary-free bolognese and I experimented with coconut milk. To my surprise, it was delicious! While the relationship did not work out, my creamy bolognese did! And I am grateful for that! Here is my slightly creamy but still chunky bolognese recipe. Keep in mind, I tend to go heavier on veggies because I love vegetables. Feel free to cut down on the vegetables per my suggestion below. I hope you like it!
Dairy-Free Bolognese (Serves 6-8)
1 lb ground beef or veal, a combination of both, or beef with pancetta or bacon bits
1.5 cups of carrots, diced (You can cut down to only 1 cup. I generally prefer lots of veggies.)
1.5 cups of celery, diced (You can cut down to only 1 cup. I generally prefer lots of veggies.)
3/4 lb of cremini or white button mushrooms, diced (optional or cut in half—mushrooms aren’t typically included in bolognese recipes but I love them and had to have!)
1 small sweet onion, diced
1.75 lb can of unsalted crushed tomatoes
1 cup of tomato sauce (I prefer my bolognese a little saucy)
1½ cup coconut milk
½ cup white wine
6 garlic cloves, diced
6 sprigs of thyme
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tbsp red chili flakes (optional-I like it a little spicey!)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp butter (optional)
1 cup of shredded parmesan (optional)
1 ½ cup of chopped basil or parsley (optional)
In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium to high heat. Add onions and cook until they have lightly browned. Add garlic, carrots, and celery (and 1 tbsp butter - optional). Add a tbsp water. When carrots are mostly cooked, add mushrooms. Sprinkle with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper. When mushrooms are mostly cooked, turn heat down to medium. Add meat and season with 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp sugar, lightly browning the meat. Add wine and stir, cooking for a few minutes longer until some of the wine has evaporated. Then pour in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and add chili flakes, remaining ½ tsp salt, and sprigs of thyme. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes, covered.
Add coconut milk, stir, and let simmer for another 30 minutes, covered.
Taste. Add additional salt or pepper, if needed. Simmer for another hour on low heat. Sauce will thicken as it cooks. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with fresh basil or parsley and parmesan.