Bison Bolognese

Sunshine, white linen table clothes, colorful umbrellas…my ideal day involves a glass of wine, some crusty bread, and big bowl of pasta on the sidewalk patio of a little restaurant on an Italian street corner. I have been fortunate enough to have eaten ragù alla bolognese in the town of its origin, Bologna, Italy, and it is one of my most cherished memories. I love making this delicious dish and reminiscing about my time in Italy, a country in love with good food.

Bolognese is a meat-based sauce, usually used in lasagna or to top tagliatelle. Traditionally this dish is made with a soffritto (sautéed onion, celery and carrot). I have added several extra veggies to this mixture including zucchini and spinach. You can use any type of pasta with this sauce, my favorite is orecchiette.

Makes: 4 cups (2 servings)

Preparation time: 20m
Cooking time: 20m
Total time: 50m


  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 carrot (peeled)
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 pound ground bison
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • dash freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes (you can buy whole, chopped or diced tomatoes and whip them up in the blender for a few seconds)
  • 1 teaspoon double concentrated tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach (or 2 1/2 cups packed fresh spinach)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 4 ounces whole grain pasta (gluten-free pasta, or paleo pasta if desired)

Equipment: food processor or blender, 2 bowls, 2-quart saucepan or skillet with a tall lip


  1. Peel and core the onion, then slice into chunks. Working in small (1-2 cup batches) place the onion into a food processor or blender. Blend on a low setting until the pieces are minced (a size that resembles the ground beef texture). Remove the minced onion mixture to a bowl.
  2. Roughly chop the celery, carrot and zucchini. Working again in small batches, blend the celery, carrot and zucchini together on a low setting until it is minced. It helps to have a little of each vegetable in each batch that is being chopped. Remove the chopped veggies to a second bowl, keeping them separate from the onion mixture.
  3. Heat the coconut oil in a 2-quart saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Then add the onion. Sauté on medium for 1-2 minutes, then add the ground bison, oregano, rosemary, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
  4. Once the meat is browned add the chopped vegetables to the saucepan and sweat them for a few minutes (4-5).
  5. Pour the white wine into the saucepan and stir, scraping the bits of meat from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and frozen spinach. If using fresh spinach, it should be roughly chopped before being added to the sauce.
  7. Cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for at least 20 minutes.
  8. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  9. Meanwhile, check on the thickness of your sauce, if it seems to watery you can remove the lid and let it thicken while the pasta is cooking. Or if it is too thick add some of the pasta water until it reaches the desired consistency. Taste and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Divide the pasta between two plates, then top with 2 cups of sauce. Enjoy!