Spaghetti Bolognese: History And A Recipe

Few Italian dishes have gained such notoriety as spaghetti bolognese. In the UK, it's known fondly as spag bol, and in the U.S., people who refer to spaghetti are often referencing this dish in particular. But spaghetti bolgnese has a richer history than its popularity may suggest. Here's a closer look at the history of this classic Italian dish... along with a quick recipe to help you make your own, restaurant-quality bolognese sauce at home.

History of Bolognese

Bolognese is named after Bologna, Italy, which is where it is thought to have originated. Although experts do not all agree on when and where the dish was invented, it is thought to have arisen during the 18th century when tomatoes became more common in the region. Bolognese shows up in cookbooks from the late 1800s. It was originally served with fat noodles, such as tagliatelle, though now it is more commonly served with spaghetti.

How to Make Bolognese

While you could just buy jarred sauce, mix it with some meat, and call that Bolognese, you'd be doing yourself a disservice. Here's a quick and easy recipe for Bolognese that will taste as good as the dish you're served in an Italian restaurant.


  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Begin by adding the olive oil to a large skillet. When it's hot, add the minced onion to the pan. Saute until translucent, and then add the garlic. Saute gently for about a minute, and then remove the onions and garlic from the pan. Set them aside.

Place the beef and sausage in the skillet, and cook over medium heat until browned. Drain off any fat. Add the onions and garlic back to the pan, along with the salt, tomatoes, tomato paste, and red wine. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens nicely. Stir in the basil and the Parmesan cheese until the cheese is melted and the basil starts to wilt.

The best way to serve this sauce is with a generous portion of spaghetti and more shaved Parmesan cheese on top. Of course, you can substitute any type of pasta you like -- that's the beauty of cooking at home.

If you'd like to try this delicious dish — or others — in the company of others, try heading to your nearest Italian restaurant today.