Let’s face it, weeknight dinners can be a real pain. Do you reach for takeout menus or microwave a frozen dinner? Or do you slave away in the kitchen for a home-cooked meal you know you should eat? Well, thanks to the new cookbook, The Dinner Plan ($19, amazon.com), you no longer have to sacrifice satisfaction for convenience.
Following the success of their award-winning first cookbook, Keepers, food writers Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion are back with tasty recipes that will soon become your weeknight go-tos. Each of the reliable recipes fall under at least one of the five practical meal strategies outlined in The Dinner Plan—make ahead, staggered, one-dish, pantry, and extra fast. Whether you’re juggling a busy schedule, fighting off a super lazy day, or both, these easy dinner recipes are bound to help you out.
One of our go-to dinners for busy weekdays is this totally doable fast bolognese.
It’s perfect for when you’re hungry for a hearty bowl of pasta, but don’t have the time or energy to wait for the bolognese sauce to simmer. Plus, this dish has tons of carrots to add a unique sweetness and texture to this traditional meal.
Scroll down to find out how to make this easy pasta for dinner tonight.
1 pound rigatoni or other sturdy pasta, such as penne or fettuccine
4 carrots, cut into thirds
2 celery stalks, cut into thirds
1 yellow onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound ground beef (preferably 85% lean)
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup heavy cream or Greek yogurt
Freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese or ricotta salata
How to Make It
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, season it generously with salt; it should taste like seawater.
When it returns to a boil, add the pasta, quickly stir to separate the noodles, then cover the pot. When the water returns to a boil again, uncover and boil the pasta until al dente, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic and pulse just until finely chopped. In a large high-sided sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste, oregano, and pepper flakes (if using), season with salt and pepper, and stir for about 1 minute.
Raise the heat to high, push the vegetables to the sides of the pan, and add the beef. Cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat, until the meat is browned, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the cream and simmer 1 minute more. Check the seasonings (it should taste a little salty and, if you like heat, a little spicy) and set aside.
When the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving about 1 cup (240 ml) of the cooking water, then pour the noodles on top of the reserved sauce. Toss to combine over medium heat. If the pasta looks dry, add some of the cooking water, then check the seasonings.
Serve with the cheese.
Make Ahead/Staggered: The pasta is best served hot. Keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, over medium heat with a splash of water or cream, stirring often. You can also make just the sauce and keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
From The Dinner Plan by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion, published by ABRAMS c 2017.
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