Pasta Bolognese with Roasted Broccoli {How-To}

The weekend has arrived! I hope you all had a wonderful week. I definitely did! You can check out my weekend here, and read about a great trip to Whole Foods here. Now, let’s talk pasta.


Is there anything cozier than pasta with meat-filled tomato sauce and cheese?

Probably not.

Spaghetti bolognese is, without a doubt, one of the world’s most popular comfort foods. It’s also surprisingly easy to make! Keep reading for a full guide to pasta bolognese.

Who needs jars and jars of tomato paste/sundried tomatoes/diced tomatoes/whole tomatoes when you can buy a big ‘ol jar of prepared marinara sauce from Costco? Actually, the jars we buy come in a huge pack of four – for less than $10! That’s about $2.50/jar, and it can serve 4-6 people. We usually cook two jars at once, so the whole family can eat it that night, with leftovers to keep in the fridge for my sister’s after-school snacks or quick dinners.

We also buy our ground beef from Costco. It’s very fresh and high-quality, as I’ve mentioned here about Costco seafood. Sidenote: I realized (after writing this post) that SO MUCH of our food is from Costco! Bulk food for the win! :mrgreen:

Oh, and plan ahead! This dish tastes best with after HOURS of simmering. If you eat dinner at six like we do, start chopping at 2:00! By the time you’re ready to eat, the sauce will be rich and flavourful. Start by heating up some butter (~ a tablespoon) over medium heat in a big saucepan. Throw in some chopped onions and cook until transluscent. Next, add some sliced mushrooms. These will practically disappear into the sauce. Here, also add some RAW peppers, chopped carrots, or celery. I like these veggies chopped small. They’ll get perfectly soft and almost melted by the time you dig in!

When all the veggies have been tossed and coated and cooked, add your ground beef! Use a wooden spatula to break it apart. When the beef is cooked, you’ll have lots of meaty liquid in the saucepan (my sister calls it cow oil!). It’s important to drain this liquid out. My mom likes to keep the oil to make beef broth. Make sure you have only ground beef and veggies in the saucepan. If it’s too wet + oily, it’ll… just not be good.

Yep – time for the sauce! Add a jar (or two!) of tomato sauce. Stir it around to combine, and add some spices. The tomato sauce that we buy (Simply Natural organic tomato sauce, BTW!) is already seasoned with oregano and a couple other Italian spices. Here, my mom usually adds some bay leaves. Cover it up, turn down the heat, and let it simmer… and simmer… and simmer.

My mom is a planner. She usually starts preparing for dinner right after lunch. She’ll wash and chop the veggies, start marinating the meat, and wash the rice. Then, everything goes into the fridge until she’s ready to cook. That way, she can relax all afternoon, and start cooking at 5:00 or 5:30. I hope I’ll have that kind of motivation when I’m an adult. 🙂

Anyways, you don’t want to serve pasta without a veggie! You could have a salad on the side, but I prefer something more exciting. Try roasted broccoli! Inspired by this recipe, my mom and I always make our roasted broccoli with GARLIC. Yummm!

Wash and cut up a head of broccoli. Then, slice up some garlic. Heat up some canola/olive oil over medium heat, and add the garlic. Sprinkle in some red pepper flakes. Saute the garlic until golden brown. I like mine a little darker – they’ll turn into garlic CHIPS. Seriously amazing. Simply Scratch uses only the garlic-chili infused oil (she uses a sieve to remove the garlic/red pepper flakes), but I just throw it all in. Pour it all over the broccoli. Toss to coat the florets with the HEAVENLY oil and season with salt, black pepper, and freshly-squeezed lemon juice. By the way, Simply Scratch boils her broccoli first. There’s no point in doing that, because it cooks up perfectly in the oven. You’ll see!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and spread out the broccoli on a baking sheet. You don’t want to leave out the garlic. It’s the best part! As I said, it becomes totally crunchy and flavourful – just like garlic chips. Mmmm! Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. We usually do the whole 20 minutes so that it becomes toasty on top! I like it sorta blackened.

Okay, broccoli’s done! Cook some pasta according to package directions. Obviously, spaghetti would be the classic choice, but we used rotini. It really doesn’t matter, but I’d avoid something thin and delicate like angel hair. Rotini, shells, elbows, penne… anything with big crevices is perfect in my book, because they work as pockets to collect the sauce. My mom swears by salted water, but I don’t personally taste a difference. It’s up to you whether or not you’d like to add salt to pasta water.

Last step? Toss some chopped roasted red peppers into the pasta sauce. Roasted peppers add a deep, sweet but smoky flavour to the pasta, and they are so fun to chew on. I love their pepper-y taste. Sundried tomatoes might also work, but we haven’t tried that. Here, I ALWAYS add a handful of spinach or kale to the pasta sauce. Spinach wilts down to practically nothing, and kale does the same if you rip it into small pieces first. Adding some leafy greens to your pasta sauce is a great idea because a) they melt into the sauce b) you won’t even notice them c) essential vitamins and minerals d) it’s easier than preparing a side salad! Taste, then add some salt and pepper as needed. Almost ready to serve!

* You could also place a layer of spinach on a plate before spooning pasta on top. I call it a baby spinach bed. 😉

Check on the broccoli. It should be toasty and golden brown – and the smell should be INTOXICATING. Whenever we make roasted broccoli, I can smell it upstairs! It’s really good, like restaurant good. Remove and toss with parmesan cheese and another drizzle of lemon.

Drain the pasta and add some oil/butter if you’d like. Apparently it prevents sticking (according to my mom) but it doesn’t matter if you’re eating it all up right away. Spoon the pasta onto a plate, top with the sauce, and add a heap of roasted broccoli to the side. Sprinkle the pasta with some more parmesan and a churnin’ of black pepper.


Looks {and SMELLS} absolutely fantastic. Such a drool-worthy dish – and considerably healthier than the local Italian restaurant.

Hope you guys enjoy!


1) Do you like pasta?
2) What are your top comfort foods?

1) I love pasta! Cream sauce, tomato sauce, you name ’em. Seafood pastas are my fave, though. Our local Milestone’s restaurant has the best seafood fettuccini with spicy chardonnay sauce. To die for!
2) OATMEAL, fried rice, pancakes with syrup, and Chinese chicken soup with rice. There are so many more, though.

Tell me your answers below, and have a SUPER Saturday. I’ll update you again tomorrow with a special post. 😉 Bye for now!