When one thinks of staple foods, one is inadvertently drawn to packaged dry goods stored in a pantry like rice, pasta, beans or flour. When considering staple dinners of course, one would gather thoughts that perfectly include any of those “staple” items. If I lived in a perfect world, seemingly complicated dishes like Coq Au Vin or for real difficult recipes like Turducken would come to mind as an everyday “staple” dinner. But my world isn’t perfect, and some dishes have their place — but not on a busy work night (which seem to be coming at me more and more).

When I was growing up, I always heard grownups talking about the famous Italian dish Ragu Bolognese. My unlearned mind conjured sophisticated thoughts of Old World Italy — where generations of grandmas and their grandmas stood in front of a wood-burning stove stirring hand-peeled scalded tomatoes that were seeded through a sieve, but not before the freshly ground beef passed through a hand-cranked meat grinder and mixed with feet-stomped red wine made early before the sun rose.

Though that might be the appropriate visualized scene at one time in history, I have never felt compelled to update the hopes of turning a generational and seemingly complicated meal like Ragu Bolognese into a simple staple dinner that can so be the most requested meal at your house — until now. It was more simple than I could have ever imagined, but the depth of flavor was more assuredly “Old World-style,” but without fussy steps or arduous planning.

This recipe excited me and the flavor was unexpected and delicious beyond my experience. I used flat noodles just because it felt more homemade to me — like I actually rolled them by hand. This really could be a staple dinner that you could actually muster a smile for if your significant other requested it on the busiest work-filled night of the week.


1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground sausage

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

5 cloves garlic, chopped

1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes

1 onion, chopped

4 whole cloves

1 16-ounce can beef stock

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese

Fresh parsley and shaved Parmesan for garnish

1 pound flat noodles, cooked according to package

In a large stock pot, brown the beef and sausage, constantly breaking up the meat. Add the tomatoes, garlic and onions just before the meat is cooked through. Saute for 2 minutes. Break up the tomatoes. Add the spices, stock and wine. Cover. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook reducing the liquid by half, about 2 hours. Stir in the Parmesan. Serve over pasta, garnished with parsley and shaved Parmesan.

Source: The Associated Press