rigatoni bolognese

Rigatoni Bolognese for Unfunky Days

Posted on Posted in Pasta & Rice

rigatoni bologneseRigatoni bolognese is there for you, man.

When your boss is all, ‘Hey, guys from corporate are very displeased that there are five UPC items without price signage,’ without mentioning the twenty boxes that you somehow managed to clear out of the backroom; rigatoni bolognese is there.

When this week’s shipment includes another two hundred calendars on top of the four hundred that you already had not been able to move out onto the sales floor, prompting you to stab the shipping box repeatedly, like a prison hitman with a shiv, before forcing a cheery grin back onto your face; rigatoni bolognese is there for you.rigatoni bologneseWhen the corporate tour includes a note that the Christmas card stacks are too tall, can’t you just store the extras in the back room, along with the twenty footstools that we already had you remove for safety reasons but you can’t throw away because we are still exploring options, and the sixteen defective Star Trek Klingon Bird-of-Prey models that you can’t get rid of yet because we’re still trying to get our money back from the vendor?  You have room back there, right?  Oh, and make sure tomorrow’s five-pallet shipment can fit in the back room, too.

rigatoni bologneseRigatoni bolognese is still there for you.

These are common, universal problems.  Part of being human.  In times like these, you need something homey, something uncomplicated and familiar and very, very filling, with just enough spicy bite to remind you that life is pain, and that anybody who tells you different is selling something.

rigatoni bologneseRigatoni bolognese is right there, man.  And he loves you.  From the inside.


So how is rigatoni bolognese part of a new, sustainable American cuisine that is gonna save American health and agriculture and make everybody ride unicorns over rainbows and s***?

First of all, let’s just clarify that ‘rigatoni bolognese’ is just pasta with a hearty red sauce.  Yeah, yeah, ‘Bolognese is a very specific regional Italian blah blah with three different meats blah San Marzano hand-squeezed tomatoes blah blah gold fart reduction dry aged veal testicles.’ 

I know.  But I don’t care.  Because I’m American.  I am going to appropriate food culture globally and willy nilly, because I can. 

rigatoni bologneseFunctionally, Bolognese is a meaty tomato sauce.  So that’s what I made.  I included plenty of carrot and onion, because a vegetable base is the backbone of a healthi(er) meal.  I also included a ton of garlic, because I don’t need a reason. 1

For the tomato sauce, I just used a big can of crushed tomatoes.  Most American households would use a jar of factory-produced pasta sauce, and that’s a mistake.  Canned, crushed tomatoes might have a little bit of salt and/or citric acid, but a jar of industrial pasta sauce is going to have extra salt, sugar, weird preservatives; a whole bunch of extra, unnecessary junk that you don’t want and don’t need.  When you buy a jar of pre-made pasta sauce, you are pulling down your pants and bending over in front of The Man.

I limited the meat to Italian sausage, because it’s cheap, accessible, and easy to use; you just brown it in the skillet like you would ground beef.

Durum wheat, the wheat that is used to make most pasta, isn’t widely grown in the midwest.  But there’s no reason it couldn’t be.  So pasta definitely gets a thumbs-up in the potentially local/sustainable category.

The only really weird thing I did to this recipe was adding some chiles.  I got a bunch of very mild New Mexico chiles, toasted them in the microwave, and ground them up in my food processor.  Now I’m using that powder in just about everything.  It’s very subtle, hardly spicy at all.  The chile pepper, being of uniquely American extraction, deserves a high place in the American Locavore cuisines.

rigatoni bologneseFamiliarity is the most important thing here.  People know rigatoni bolognese even if they don’t know they know it.  Short pasta, rich red sauce, high comfort factor.  The look, ingredients, and taste are all a part of the American palate already.  Finding and nailing down the dishes in America that already fit a healthy, sustainable locavore model is important in codifying a regional cuisine.


rigatoni bologneseYou don’t eat it because it’s healthy.  You don’t eat it because it’s good for the environment.  You eat it because you’re hungry, and tired, and kind of mad, and you need a supper that’s like a warm, manly, totally hetero hug.

rigatoni bologneseRigatoni bolognese is there for you, man.


Rigatoni Bolognese
Serves 4
Rigatoni simmered in a hearty tomato meat sauce, with just a bit of chile powder to keep things interesting.
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
  1. 1 onion, diced
  2. 1 carrot, diced
  3. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 link Italian sausage,
  5. 1 Tbsp fruity mild chile powder (see notes)
  6. 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  9. 1/4 cup cream
  10. 1/2 lb rigatoni
  1. In large skillet or dutch oven, heat a bit of oil or butter over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and garlic, and sweat until the carrot is tender. Squeeze the Italian sausage out from its casing into the pan and break it up as it browns. When the sausage is fully cooked, add the chile powder and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the rigatoni to a large pot. Add enough water to cover by a half inch or so. Put the pot over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil, opening the pot and stirring often to prevent sticking.
  3. When the rigatoni is almost al dente, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and add it to the sauce, along with a quarter cup of the pasta water. Add the cream to the sauce, stir, and simmer until the pasta is tender. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  1. For my chile powder, I use dried New Mexico chiles that I toast in the microwave and grind up in the food processor.
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  1. Garlic, the reason is you.

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