This easy and delicious Lamb Bolognese recipe combines Lamb, carrots, onion, fennel, tomatoes and wine for a rich and meaty sauce that's perfect for serving over a pile of tagliatelle, or your favorite pasta. A fun twist on a classic Bolognese, this Lamb version has a distinctly delicious flavor all it's own!JUMP TO RECIPE
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Rich, hearty and delicious Lamb Bolognese
When you want a big, comforting bowl of pasta, a bowl of Bolognese is hard to beat. This twist on the classic Italian meat-based sauce used ground Lamb, fennel, red wine, tomatoes, and a bit of butter stirred in at the end for an oh-so-satisfying bowl of comforting pasta!
Lamb Bolognese Ingredients
To make this rich and flavorful Lamb Bolognese Sauce, you will need:
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing the veggies.
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced.
- 1 rib celery, finely diced.
- 1 medium onion, finely diced.
- 1 fennel bulb, cleaned, trimmed and finely chopped.
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- 6 cloves minced garlic.
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste.
- 1 lb ground lamb.
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, for some heat and depth.
- 2 teaspoon dry basil.
- 2 bay leaves. You'll pull these out at the end.
- ¾ cup red wine, such as merlot or cabernet sauvignon. Use something you would drink, and avoid anything overly sweet.
- 1 large can crushed tomatoes.
- A parmesan rind. This is optional, but I highly recommend, as it adds great umami flavor to the sauce.
- 4 tablespoon butter. This gets stirred in right before serving, and adds a silky, rich quality to the sauce.
Prepping the veggies
Using the food processor
My favorite way to get all the veggies finely chopped/diced is to throw everything into the food processor. Just cut all the veggies into manageable pieces and pulse until they are finely chopped.
Chopping by hand
You can also chop all the veggies by hand. Juts be sure to keep everything very small and uniform so they cook quickly and evenly.
Working with fennel
To use the fennel, separate the bulb from the fronds, and remove the tough core from the bulb. Remove any tough outer pieces, rinse well will cool water, and chop by hand, or add to the food processor. You can save the fronds for garnish!
How to make Lamb Bolognese sauce
- 1. Finely dice the carrots, celery, onion and fennel. This can be done by hand, or in a food processor.
- Add olive oil to a large dutch oven or pot, and heat over medium heat.
- Add carrots, celery, onion, and fennel to the pot, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir to combine, then cook, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and tomato paste, and stir well. Cook 2-3 minutes, until tomato paste begins to darken a bit.
- Add the lamb to the pot and cook, breaking up as you go, for 5-6 minutes, until fully browned.
- Add the red pepper flakes, dried basil, bay leaves, wine, crushed tomatoes and parmesan rind (if using).
- Stir well, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. If using a parmesan rind, check on it periodically to make sure it doesn’t stick.
- After 1 hour, remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind, and stir in the butter until melted and fully incorporated.
Optional: add a parmesan rind
I love to add a parmesan rind to sauces and soups if I happen to have one on hand. Whenever I get a block of parmesan cheese, I save the rinds for this very reason! If you don't have one, it's not a deal breaker, but if you do (or can get one), I highly recommend it.
Other recipes using parmesan rinds
- Escarole Soup with Barley and Parmesan
- Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- Easy Italian Wedding Soup with Leeks
- Italian Minestrone Soup
This sauce goes great tossed with some delicious pasta like Tagliatelle or pappardelle, with some extra sauce piled on top, grated parmesan, and a bit of fresh basil. Make it a full meal with a great salad (like this Prosciutto, Melon and Burrata Salad), and some crusty bread or garlic bread!
What type of pasta goes best with Bolognese sauce?
Tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta are the more traditional choices for a Bolognese sauce, but you can use any pasta you like and it will still be delicious. Some other great options would be:
Substitutions and Additions
Here are some swaps and additions you can make to make this sauce your own, or work with what you have on hand:
- Not a fan of fennel, or can't find it? You can omit it from the recipe.
- Not a fan of cooking with wine? Replace the wine with some chicken or beef stock. I love the flavor the red wine gives to the sauce, so if you do have it on hand, go for it!
- Prefer a slightly thinner sauce? Use canned tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes.
- Into a chunkier sauce? Use a can of whole, peeled tomatoes instead of crushed, and use your hands to break them into smaller pieces as you add them to the pot.
- No parmesan rind? No problem! Leave it out. This sauce is great with a healthy portion of grated parmesan on top, too.
- Not feeling lamb, or don't have it on hand? Use ground beef!
To store leftover sauce in the refrigerator, allow it to cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container. The sauce will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge!
Want to save some of your sauce for another dinner? This Lamb Bolognese sauce freezes really well! Allow it to fully cool, then transfer to a resealable freezer bag and transfer to the freezer. The sauce will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months without losing any quality!
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Easy Lamb Bolognese Recipe with Pasta
- large dutch oven or stockpot
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 1 rib of celery, finely diced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 fennel bulb, cleaned, trimmed and finely chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 lb ground lamb
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoon dry basil
- 2 bay leaves
- ¾ cup red wine (such as merlot or cabernet sauvignon)
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 1. Finely dice the carrots, celery, onion and fennel. This can be done by hand, or in a food processor. 2. Add olive oil to a large dutch oven or pot, and heat over medium heat. 3. Add carrots, celery, onion, and fennel to the pot, and season with salt and pepper to taste. 4. Stir to combine, then cook, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes. 5. Add garlic and tomato paste, and stir well. Cook 2-3 minutes, until tomato paste begins to darken a bit. 6. Add the lamb to the pot and cook, breaking up as you go, for 5-6 minutes, until fully browned. 7. Add the red pepper flakes, dried basil, bay leaves, wine, crushed tomatoes and parmesan rind (if using). 8. Stir well, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. If using a parmesan rind, check on it periodically to make sure it doesn’t stick. 9. After 1 hour, remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind, and stir in the butter until melted and fully incorporated. 10. Serve with pasta, parmesan cheese, and fresh basil or fennel fronds (for garnish).
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