I think I may be one of the few food bloggers that wasn’t overly impressed by Ina Garten’s latest cookbook How Easy Is That? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Ina and there are definitely some recipes in the book that I am looking forward to trying.  It’s just that overall, this book has a much lower percentage of recipes that pique my interest than many of her past books.  The book has sat on my shelf largely ignored since I pre-ordered it with such excitement back in the fall.  Finally I decided it was time to get some use out of it, and so this weeknight bolognese went on our menu.

This meal was enjoyed all around.  I particularly enjoyed its simplicity, and how wonderful it smelled while cooking.  I opted to use ground turkey instead of ground beef, and whole grain pasta to make it a bit healthier.  Next time I think I may try using chopped mushrooms in place of the ground meat for a meatless meal.  Yeah, it won’t be meat sauce but I bet it will still taste great.  Ben enjoyed this even more than I did, and finished up the leftovers for lunches during the week.  That’s always a good sign in our house, from someone who usually has refrigerator-leftover-blindness (sorry honey! ;))


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. lean ground sirloin (or ground turkey)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
1¼ cups dry red wine, divided
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. dried pasta, such as shells
Pinch of ground nutmeg
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


  • 01

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Crumble the ground meat into the pan.  Cook until no longer pink and starting to brown, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add 1 cup of the wine to the pan and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions.

  • 03

    While the pasta is cooking, finish the sauce.  Stir in the nutmeg, basil, cream, and remaining ¼ cup wine.  Simmer for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened.  When the pasta is cooked and drained, toss with the warm sauce and grated Parmesan until well coated.  Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.


  • I’m so glad that you tried this and enjoyed it- a friend of mine made this recipe and was very unimpressed. I’m glad it wasn’t a total fluke, prob just a “one off.” Yours looks great!

  • I moved our “leftover” shelf up in the fridge so it is directly at eye level. The only thing allowed on the shelf are leftovers. I “box” leftovers in individual “to go” dishes so it’s easy as can be to just grab a leftover box and head out the door…but still, Boy, manages to never be able to find the leftovers. *maybe it’s a communication breakdown and our definitions of “leftover” mean two completely different things. (anyway that is my refrigerator – leftover -blindness story.)

  • This looks great! Love the idea of the ground turkey!

  • Mushrooms are a fantastic option. That sounds so good I think I will try this for dinner tonight! Thanks.
    Peace, Stephanie

  • I haven’t gotten that cookbook but did notice a lot of bloggers cooking from it. This looks like a recipe I’d defiitely try!

  • I’m going to make this using your mushroom substitution idea. I love pasta and I too have trouble getting my wonderful husband to remember leftovers for lunch the next day. We usually don’t have too much trouble getting rid of pasta leftovers, though:)

  • I finally conquered the leftover blindness you spoke of. Partly it was by my partner, Peter, haranging me about wasting food. Regarding cookbooks: I use Google so much to check out ideas for ingredients that we now have only a couple actual books.

  • Amy

    mmm looks so creamy and delicious! i like that you used shells, i’ve never done shells with a tomato sauce. i made sauce + meatballs yesterday and used SO MUCH SALT (on accident – still getting used to “Sea Salt” vs what i used to use (reg. table salt). might grab some kosher salt and save the sea salt for our icy walkways). anyway, i had to add extra water and tomato paste than originally planned, but in the end it turned out great!

  • I love quick pasta dinners! Great recipe.

  • mmm. That looks good. I will be making this for supper. Thanks.

  • Maggi

    My only advice… Don’t write off the cookbook just yet. When I was pregnant, many of the recipes cookbooks I bought didn’t seem to appeal to me. But once the kiddo was born, these recipes were seen from a different perspective.

  • I don’t have that cookbook yet, but I do love her other ones. She’s my favorite tv cooking personality.

  • This looks great. I love bolognese sauce, especially with turkey meat substituted! :)

  • I know what you mean about the Ina’s book. I thought about having a give away for it, since she also signed it for me. Still sitting in my bookshelf as well :-)
    Interesting pasta dish, maybe I will try this one since I love pasta and have never tried a recipe with red wine in it.

  • My husband works odd hours, so luckily there usually isn’t any leftover blindness in my house (he like to take a warm meal with him to work). This definitely looks good!

  • marcia

    I also was less thanimpressed by this book.I love Ina Garten and looked forward to her new book but actually returned it once looking through it.

  • How funny, I made this for dinner on Sunday night! I have my Ina book just sitting on the counter, waiting to be used on those “Do I really want to cook days?” and luckily I decided to make it….we loved it!! Gorgeous picture Annie!

  • Annie

    Oh, my appetite was only affected during the first trimester. Since I’m a month away from my due date, things have been back to normal for many months. Nevertheless, I still don’t like the cookbook.

  • Sarah

    I completely adore Ina, but was disappointed in the latest cookbook. I am glad I am not the only one. I treasure all the other ones.

  • Hillary

    I thought this recipe was good, not great also. I had success with the cookbook’s yogurt and bluecheese dip (which I lightened up with lower fat dairy). Her “bangers and mash” recipe was a huge hit in my house. I’m making her sausage-stuffed mushroom caps next week!

  • Sarah

    I made this for dinner on Sunday night. I wasn’t paying attention and added a whole can of tomato paste and a little bit more wine than was called for so the sauce ended up a little thinner than a normal bolognese. I also shredded up a few carrots in a measly attempt to get some veggies in this meal and sauteed them with the garlic. I think I might prefer my traditional bolognese better but this was a good quick meal.

    Agree totally with your thoughts about Ina’s latest cookbook…I was super pumped when it came out and even more excited when I picked it up at Marshalls for $15 but so far haven’t been really impressed with the recipes in it :/

  • sweetestnicky

    Hi Annie – what a beautiful place setting in the photo, I love how rustically elegant the meal looks, the Barefoot would be impressed. I totally agree with you about How Easy Is that? I keep hoping it will grow on me, Back to Basics took me months to warm up to and now it is my favourite, however, at this point, How Easy Is that just remains a splash of red in my Barefoot Collection.

  • I love Ina’s recipes and her style too, but in this case I think I was swayed by the pretty cover picture :) Even still, I would have bought it anyways, just because I love her and Geoffrey so much. I know, I’m a weirdo. The book is still sitting on my shelf, but you may have persuaded me to pull it down with this dish!

  • I havent made Bolognese for way too long, I think Ill try this recipe next week.

  • I felt the same way about How Easy Is That? It just didn’t seem as engaging as her other cookbooks and there seemed to be some redundancies. I was disappointed.

  • Sounds good! Perfect weeknight meal.

  • I have to agree, I was not impressed by this cookbook, and the title annoyed me before I even opened it.

  • Mary Ruth

    Just curious…how long is the time between trying food and posting? I am in the middle of a kitchen renovation and as soon as it is done I am making croissants! Thank you for another great recipe and I am going to try the meatless version of this recipe for Lent.

  • Annie

    It really depends. Average, about 1-2 weeks, sometimes longer and sometimes less, depending on how many sweet/savory dishes I also have to post (I try to make sure there is always a pretty good mix.)

  • Tara

    Unfortunately, I am going to have to agree with you on Ina. I was her biggest fan but lately I don’t even keep her show on because it’s just a bore.

  • Your bolognese looks amazing! I love adding some finely diced carrot to mine. It gives the sauce a nice sweetness. I’ve never eaten bolognese with shells before either, so def need to try!

  • Love the red wine in this! It sounds delicous! Thanks!

  • I loved this pasta. It was quick and easy to make.

  • Alice

    I made this tonight and added sliced baby bella mushrooms then served with papardelle noodles (my only modifications). Not only was this delicious – it served 4 hungry teenagers, me, and my husband and we still had 2 more servings for leftovers!

  • Elizabeth

    I really enjoyed this recipe. Thank you!

    Also, while searching for this recipe, I came across your baby food recipe for spaghetti bolognese. I look forward to making that in the future. All of your baby food recipes look excellent. I am making all of my daughter’s food as well and appreciate some new ideas. Thanks!

  • Kelly

    I found the recipe to be very salty – is the tablespoon a typo? I will just salt to taste next time.

  • Annie

    No, not a typo.

  • Heidi

    Made this for dinner tonight…it was delish! Congrats on your new bundle of joy!

  • Kristin

    We also found the dish to be much too salty…next time I would only add a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon of salt.

  • Jen

    I am making this pasta tonight, but I just realized I forgot the heavy cream. Do you need it? Is there anything I can use as a substitute? Milk?


  • Jen

    Never mind, I experimented and used 2 tablespoons of low Fat Sour Cream instead and it is delish!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  • I haven’t been a big fan of Ina’s either lately but I loved this dish. I’ve been using my MIL’s recipe for bolognese sauce but I think this one has become our new favorite!

  • Rita

    I tried this for dinner tonight and it was a bit salty. So I did not add any salt to the pasta and combined the pasta and sauce and cooked for a minute or so. It tuned out great, and my family loved it! Great recipe. I will make it again.

  • Debbie

    I just made this last night and it is absolutely fabulous! All of the spices work together so magnificently. Another hit – thank you :)

  • marcie

    i love this recipe – it is quick and extremely tasty…. freezes great too! Thanks for again for a winner. :)

  • Kellyannemalloy

    Made this last week and it was AMAZING!! My fiance had two bowls and took the rest to work to tease his co workers with! Even my 3 year old had seconds! Thank you!!

  • This is perfect! I’ve been looking all over for something relatively simple to do tonight with the ground beef we thawed on Wednesday but never ate because we decided to have Chinese food on the Fourth of July instead of hamburgers. Every other recipe I’ve found requires more effort than I have in me when it feels like 104 degrees out! Annie’s Eats to the rescue again . . .

  • This was delicious. After reading the comments, I reduced the salt to 2/3 of a tablespoon, figuring I could up it a little bit if needed, but I didn’t think it was anywhere near too salty and thought it definitely could have taken another 1/3 of a tablespoon. Just wanted to add my two cents for anyone thinking about making this!

  • Kate

    Have you tried this with only mushrooms yet? I made this very often until my boyfriend became a vegetarian, but now I miss it!

  • annieseats

    Not yet. Give it a try! You’ve got nothing to lose :)

  • Caitlin

    Is there a substitute for the heavy cream? I’m lactose intolerant but was hoping to try it out. Will it effect the recipe greatly if I just leave it out?

  • annieseats

    I would just omit it. Enjoy!

  • Jen

    Can you make this in a slow cooker? How would you do it?

  • annieseats

    I haven’t tried that and I don’t have experience with slow cookers so I can’t really comment on that.

  • Melissa Brooker

    I just made this tonight, I’ve seen it numerous times, I’m not sure what took me so long to finally try it! It was delicious this will be my new quick bolognese recipe! Both my husband and I loved it. Also, I want to add that I made this exactly as written and did not find it anywhere near too salty. I’m not a basil fan, but used it anyways and I’m glad I did, it added a nice flavour without being overpowering.