I used to get sooo stressed out about last-minute dinner parties. You know, the ones where your sister calls like a hour before, and all of a sudden you have a group of people coming over (midweek) for dinner?!
Well, over the years I've learned that life happens and these impromptu dinner parties are bound to crop up now and again. And planning for these eventualities is something I've actually come to embrace!
Not because I'm a now a lover of chaos or relish in the mad-dash dinner party feeling. But because I have taught myself to keep a pantry and freezer stocked with life-saving ingredients, just in case - like ready-made pasta sauces, dried pasta, frozen garlic and shallots, frozen meats, sauces and even frozen wine!
These food staples help me quickly whip up a homestyle feast for a crowd, without breaking a sweat.
That's why I'm loving the new aptly named RAGÚ® Homestyle pasta sauces - they're a thick sauce with deliciously bold flavors and a special blend of herbs (basil, fennel, oregano and black pepper).
Bonus points that they use NO artificial flavors, artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup. So you can cut your cooking time, but you won't compromise on great flavor!
And I love using it for my Ragu alla Bolognese Pasta Bowl Recipe. It's a great recipe for dinner party entertaining because it's super quick to make, and the individual portions means it's extra easy to serve. And looks super pretty, like you really made a huge effort ;)
It's also a great dish to serve at a DIY Pasta Station!
Dinner Party Recipe | Ragu alla Bolognese Pasta Bowls
Click for printable recipe - Serves 4
Ingredients for the Ragu:
* 500 g (1 pound) of lean minced beef, pork or lamb
* 250 g (1/2 pound) of dried pasta shapes
* 1 jar of RAGÚ® Homestyle Thick and Hearty Traditional Sauce
* 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
* 2 cloves of garlic (fresh or frozen)
* 1 medium onion diced small
* 2 bay leaves
* 200 ml(6.7 fl oz) of red wine
* 1 dried beef stock cube
* 2 tablespoons of finely chopped basil (I use frozen)
* 1 teaspoon of dried Provençal herbs
* salt and pepper to taste
For the béchamel sauce:
* 2 heaped tablespoons of butter
* 2 heaped tablespoons of flour
* ground nutmeg
* 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
* salt and pepper to taste
For the topping:
* grated cheese
* basil oil (mix a little chopped basil with olive oil)
1) Bring a pan of water to boil for the pasta while you prepare the Ragu sauce. For the sauce, add oil to a large pan or wok, fry the onions and garlic until softened.
2) Add the ground meat, stir and break up the meat with a wooden spoon.
3) Add bay leaves, herbs and stock cube and continue to stir until meat turns lightly brown. De-glaze the pan with the wine. Continue to cook until meat turn golden brown and wine has been fully absorbed.
4) Add the jar of RAGÚ® Homestyle Thick and Hearty Traditional Sauce and stir to coat the meat. Add the chopped basil, season to taste and add a little water. Simmer for 5 minutes.
5) Once the pasta is cooked (7-8 minutes), drain it and stir into the meat pan. Set aside while you make the béchamel sauce.
6) For the béchamel: add butter and flour to a sauce pan, stirring until butter has melted and flour is fully incorporated. Gradually add a little milk to the pan, stirring constantly with a metal whisk. Keep adding enough milk and stirring, until your have a creamy sauce. Take it off the heat and add mustard, nutmeg and season to taste.
7) Place the pasta into oven or broiler-proof serving bowls.
8) Top with béchamel sauce and sprinkle with cheese. At this stage you can refrigerate the bowl until ready to serve. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days in advance. Alternatively, place the bowl under a hot grill/broiler until cheese has melted and it's all bubbly and golden.
Drizzle with basil oil at the table and enjoy!
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Ragu, but all recipes and opinions are my own.