There is a time and place for jarred pasta sauces. Wednesday nights, for example.
When one kid needs to be at karate, another at band practice, and the spouse has a late meeting. Those are the nights for jarred pasta sauce.
For all other nights — nights when you can spare 30 minutes to whip together something better — leave the jar in the cabinet.
Because the difference between a jarred sauce and a homemade bolognese will make you wish you could carve out those 30 minutes more often.
Plus, a pot of bubbling sauce on a cold winter night is a fine way to begin an evening at home with the family. So sit the kids at the counter to do their homework, then start cooking.
This Bolognese is mostly effortless. You can make it even more so by using the food processor to chop your vegetables.
Five-spice pork bolognese pasta
12 ounces pasta
1 pound lean ground pork
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and ground black pepper
Chopped fresh basil
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium-high. Add the pork and saute for 2 minutes, or until fat begins to render from the meat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Saute until the carrots are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the five-spice powder and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Stir in the Parmesan, then season with salt and pepper. Stir in a bit of basil. Add the pasta, tossing to coat well. Serve topped with additional basil.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 770 calories; 270 calories from fat (35 percent of total calories); 30 g fat (11 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 90 mg cholesterol; 86 g carbohydrate; 8 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 40 g protein; 850 mg sodium.