Banish Perimenopause Woes with Tomato-based Bolognese Sauce

indexWritten by Pam Andrews.

Antioxidant-loaded tomato-based recipes certainly help you deal with a host of perimenopause and menopause symptoms. The alpha-hydroxy acids in tomatoes counteract skin itching. Tomatoes, specifically cooked ones, lower the risk for cardiovascular disease. They can also help maintain healthy bones – a bane for menopausal women because of the bone loss that accompanies perimenopause and menopause. A study published in Osteoporosis International recommends an equivalent of two glasses of tomato juice drank daily to reduce osteoporosis.

The tasty Italian-inspired Bolognese sauce is an excellent addition to your diet to amplify your intake of lycopene from tomatoes. Lycopene content is highest in tomatoes that have undergone intensive heat treatment which is common among processed tomato sauces.

A Brief History

Bolognese sauce recipes are essentially European, specifically Italian, in origin. In Italy, Bolognese is predominantly a type of meat sauce. It consists of minced steak, onion, carrot, celery, and tomato purée. This mixture is cooked for an hour and a half with just enough water to keep it moist.

The most famous meat sauce in Italy is a variation of Bolognese sauce. This sauce is typically a concoction of ground meat, pancetta, prosciutto, mushrooms, and many other vegetables. In most cases, beef and tomatoes are simmered with white wine, milk, and mixtures various aromatic vegetables. In a sauce pan or deep casserole, ground beef is sautéed with onions, carrots, and celery. After the vegetables are slightly cooked, white wine is then added to give the Bolognese sauce a particular richness – that of a tangy sweetness of fermented fruit. Once the wine is cooked off and the alcohol is evaporated away, the beef is cooked further with milk. Tomatoes are added and simmered with the sauce.

Bolognese sauce is typically served with fresh pasta like fettuccine, spaghetti, or cheese ravioli. Parmesan cheese is grated on top of it as seen in many other authentic Italian cuisines.

Typical Bolognese Sauce Recipe:

1 small onion, minced
1 small carrot, peeled and minced
1/2 celery stalk, minced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb ground beef
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup milk
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes which is then chopped finely before adding

1. Melt the butter and add the olive oil. Use a sauce pan with a thick and heavy bottom.
2. Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery over medium heat.
3. Place the ground beef and let it brown. Put salt and stir the meat mixture.
4. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate before adding milk and nutmeg. Let the milk thicken the mixture.
5. Add tomatoes and some of the juice from the can. When the Bolognese sauce boils, turn down the heat to its lowest settings. Don’t let the sauce dry out, and if it does, add some of the reserved tomato juice from the can. Add the seasonings to get the desired taste.
6. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate if you want to store it for future use.

Another Delicious Bolognese Recipe:

(serves 4)

100g finely diced smoked bacon
1 finely diced onion
1 finely diced carrot
2 sticks finely diced celery
250g minced beef

40g finely chopped chicken liver
150ml whole milk
Grated nutmeg
150ml dry white wine
400ml can of plum tomatoes

1. Melt the butter in a large casserole over slow heat. Add the finely diced smoked bacon. Once the bacon fat begins to melt, add the onion and mix with the bacon. Cook in low heat then add the finely diced carrot and celery.
2. Add the minced or ground beef and brown the meat. Stir occasionally so that the meat will not lump together.
3. Put seasonings and add the chicken liver. Cook for five minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 125 Celsius. Add the milk and put the grated nutmeg. Simmer in very low heat until the milk completely evaporates. This will take around 30 minutes.
5. Add the wine and the tomatoes. Stir the mixture so that it cooks evenly.
6. Place the casserole inside the oven and make sure that the casserole lid is slightly ajar. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Add water each time the sauce dries out.
7. Serve the sauce with pasta (either spaghetti or penne). Add parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese on top of the Bolognese sauce. Serve hot.

Bolognese Sauce Variations

Elizabeth David, famous in the Italian culinary circle, created the Elizabeth David’s recipe for Bolognese sauce. This recipe was culled from the owner of Trattoria Nerina in Bologna. This Bolognese sauce is comprised of chicken livers, minced beef, and chopped bacon or uncooked ham. Moreover, some vegetables are also added before the white wine, stock, tomato purée, and nutmeg. The chicken liver was said to impart to this variation of the Bolognese sauce more depth. The taste of the liver can be overpowering, so this must be added sparingly.

There’s another version of the Bolognese sauce, which was started by Ursula Ferrigno. It uses bacon and was made to resemble a pancetta. The meat used was half beef and half pork — lending strong meaty taste to the sauce.

The Italian Marcella Hazan, on the other hand, uses ground beef chuck in her Bolognese sauce recipe. Hazan recommends adding milk to be simmered away before the white wine stock is added; this “protects” the meat from the acidic tang of the alcohol.

Although the taste of milk is not detectable at all, Hazan said that there is a particular sweetness to the Bolognese sauce that is not evident in other recipes. Going back to Marcella Hazan, her variation of the Bolognese sauce calls for slow cooking of three hours or more. This is best done in a slow cooker apparatus which can simmer the sauce using the least amount of heat.

White wine is almost always the type of wine stock used for Bolognese sauce. Giorgio Locatelli, an Italian chef, uses red wine. He also incorporates a lot of tomatoes in his Bolognese sauce recipes.

The meat-based Bolognese sauce is a fine Italian culinary tradition that has spread to many parts of the world. Regional and local variations are evident and seasonal vegetables (like mushrooms) are even added to make the sauce tastier and more close to home.

About the Author: Pam Andrews is the author of “Perimenopause: Have It, Live It, Love It!’ 

Click here to check out Pam Andrews’ book.

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