Growing up, I ate spaghetti dinners made from a box that contained a can of “meat” sauce. It was the earliest iteration of pre-portioned meals you could make yourself. It wasn’t until decades later I discovered Bolognese sauce was one of the OG Italian meat sauces that had been severely dumbed down into this can. My Paleo Bolognese Sauce is certainly not like most Italian Nonnas would make, but it is creamy and savory like the original AND it is completely dairy-free.
Most widely attributed to Bologna, this sauce has a complicated past, like many traditional dishes. Many cities claim it outside of the city of Bologna, even though the name certainly speaks to Bologna originating it. Regardless of geography, it is a ragù which means it is a long-simmering sauce comprised of finely chopped ingredients. Many ragus are found all over Italy with each having their own story.
Again, this comes down to who is making it. Traditionally, it is made with ground meats – a mixture of pork, veal and beef, or any one of these. Along with the meat, you will find carrots, celery, onion and maybe a little garlic. Despite the liberal use of garlic used in Italian American recipes, true Italian recipes use it more sparingly and sometimes not at all in Bolognese. A small amount of tomato may be used but some recipes don’t use tomatoes at all. White or red wine is evaporated away leaving only its essence and tiny bit of extra liquid. Finally, some sort of milk is used to create a creamy sauce, typically whole milk or cream.
How My Paleo Bolognese Sauce Differs from the OG
I used only grass-fed and finished ground beef, simply because that’s typically what I have. I use the veggies that are common, but sometimes use a little chopped fennel bulb along with the celery. To honor the Italian use of garlic and keep closer to the original recipe, I only use one clove, finely minced. I sometimes add some fresh thyme if I have it, otherwise I leave it out. I use tomato paste along with a little broth or wine depending on if I am on a round of Whole30 or not. As a dairy-free cream sub, I use coconut cream.
Steps for Making Bolognese Sauce in the Instant Pot
How to Serve Paleo Bolognese Sauce
Serve Bolognese Sauce traditionally over a long and/or wide pasta, such as Pappardelle or spaghetti. To keep it close to the traditional but still Paleo, use noodles that are grain free such as:
- Zucchini noodles or your favorite spiralized veggie
- Cassava spaghetti such as Jovial brand
- Or to get the closest texture to true pasta, try Cappellos Fettuccine. Find this at Sprouts, Natural Grocers, Whole Foods and some Target stores.
For a totally different idea, stuff the bolognese into peppers and dollop with Kite Hill Ricotta or substitute the Bolognese for the Italian Sausage in my Sausage Stuffed Zucchini.
Make Paleo Bolognese Sauce in Your Instant Pot
2 lbs ground beef, pork, venison, veal or a mixture
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped celery or fennel (or a mix)
1 6 oz can organic tomato paste
1 cup white wine (chicken or beef broth for alcohol free or Whole30)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp freshly pulled thyme leaves
1 cup coconut cream (I use the thick cream on top of canned coconut milk)
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Using the Saute function, brown the ground meat in the bowl of the Instant Pot.
- Add the finely chopped veggies and stir until they begin to soften.
- Add the tomato paste and stir to slightly darken the tomato paste and allow it to melt into the meat and veggies.
- Add the wine or broth and cook until half of the liquid has evaporated. (If Instant Pot turns off, just turn it to sauté again to finish this step.)
- Add the coconut cream and turn off the Instant Pot.
- Use the Manual Function on High Pressure and set it for 15 minutes. Let it release pressure naturally. If you won’t be eating right away, just let your Instant Pot switch over to low setting and it will function like a slow cooker to keep it warm until you’re ready.
- Taste and add salt and pepper if you feel like it’s needed.
- Serve on your favorite pasta or vegetable noodles.
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