A Bolognese Sauce Recipe from Emilia Romagna

November 17, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Emilia Romagna has a lot of different nicknames. The Italian region — north of Tuscany — has been called the “motor valley” as its the home to cars like Ferrari and Maserati; the “wellness valley” as its a wonderful place for spa visits and bike tours; and the “food basket” of Italy. In other words, there are plenty of reasons to visit this beautiful valley on a foodie vacation in Italy, even if it may not be as well known as other Italian regions!

Pasta making class on a foodie vacation in ItalyFor us, of course, the food holds a special place in our heart, and when it comes to a visit, there’s an incredible array of cured meats, cheeses, and dishes to choose from. And since pasta is a big part of the culinary traditions here, it’s no surprise that we love a good bolognese sauce, which a meat ragú. Bolognese sauce takes its name after, no surprise here, the city of Bologna, which is found in Emilia Romagna, and the sauce is often served over thicker pieces of pasta, like tagliatelle and lasagna.

See all our trips in Emilia Romagna. 

While recipes vary wildly, and every family has their own, a Bolognese should be made with either tomato paste (a preserved product also made in the region!) or tomatoes, along with meat. Ready to try your hand with this traditional recipe? Here’s one way to make it.

Read more reasons you should visit Bologna on a foodie tour with TIK.

Bolognese sauce on a foodie vacation in Italy

Bolognese Sauce

Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 minute
Cook time: 120 minutes
Cook method: Simmer


  • Olive oil
  • Minced prosciutto or pancetta
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 100 grams minced lean veal or beef
  • 100 grams lean pork
  • 1 glass dry red wine (learn to pick the right wine to cook with!)
  • Water
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • Salt, to taste

Learn about the region’s stuffed pastas.

Biking through the plaza on a culinary vacation in ItalyInstructions: 
1. To start making the ragu like you would on a foodie vacation in Italy, first use a large pan and heat the olive oil. Once warm, add the pancetta or prosciutto, along with celery, carrot, and onion. Gently mix and sauté together for around 10 minutes.
2. To the pan, add the minced meats, and then stir it with a wooden spoon so as to break it all up.
3. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes so that the meat is browned.
4. Add the wine and bring it to a boil. Allow it to bubble for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
5. Stir in a bit of water if necessary so that the meat doesn’t stick to the pan.
6. Add in the tomato paste, and continue to stir. Then dilute the mixture with a few tablespoons of water to create a sauce-like consistency.
7. Add salt, to taste.
8. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, and add more water if it starts to become too dry.

Learn about the hearty, meat-filled tortelli lucchesi from nearby Tuscany.

Gnocchi fritti and prosciutto on a culinary tour of ItalyTry another Emilian recipe: gnocchi fritti.

Want to learn how to make other delicious recipes like this one, all while discovering the source of famous treats like prosciutto di parma and parmigiano reggiano? Come visit the region of Emilia Romagna during an Italy cooking vacation, whether you want to stay out in the countryside or in the major cities of Parma and Bologna.

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