Sometimes when I'm thinking of a new recipe I can almost taste the flavors, even before I begin making it. Other times, it can turn out completely opposite of what you thought it would taste like - both good and bad.
This, my friends, is one of those recipes; one of those times when the flavors totally caught me by surprise and turned out better than I could have expected!
In my excitement of creating a surprisingly tasty dish, I of course blasted my mom, sister, boyfriend and best friends with photos of the dish, exclaiming "PUMPKIN BOLOGNESE!!!". Each time I got back the response "so, does it taste super pumpkin-y?". I'm sure you are all asking yourselves the exact same question. I mean, pumpkin is in the title of the recipe for goodness sake!
First, let's rewind. I'd like to explain why pumpkin was used to begin with. A bolognese is simply an Italian meat-based sauce. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a tomato-based sauce with meat added. In fact, the original bolognese is said to have been beef, onion and carrots cooked with butter butter and then covered and cooked with broth. As the recipe evolved, tomato was eventually added.
While I LOVE tomatoes, sadly I've discovered it is best for my skin if I don't eat them or any other member of the nightshade family, for that matter. If you have an autoimmune disease (I'm lucky and only have psoriasis) your diet can have a huge impact on controlling your aliment. Nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes), dairy, nuts, eggs, grains and alcohol should be avoided. This causes me to get creative at times...which led me to subbing PUMPKIN for tomato paste in a basic bolognese.
The result will surprise you. If you are looking for a distinct taste of pumpkin in this sauce, you won't find it here. Instead, it is a hearty and rich meat sauce that has been slow cooked, allowing a depth of flavor to develop that you can't get by rushing. This will be a dish you want to come home to as the night become a little cooler and the dark comes a little sooner.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
- 1 tbsp grass fed butter
- 1 cup onion, minced, chopped
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground beef (90% lean, 10% fat)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 cups chicken bone broth, homemade or store bought (such as Pacific)
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic until the onion become translucent, about 5 minutes. Once the onions have cooked, add fresh thyme, allowing it to become fragrant.
- Add ground beef and brown. While cooking, break up with a spoon so that no large pieces form. Continue cooking until all pink is gone, another 5 minutes.
- Once mixture has fully cooked add beef broth and pumpkin puree. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil. When a boil has been reached, add bay leaves and reduce to a simmer. Allow sauce to cook uncovered for roughly 2 hours.
- As the sauce cooked, the liquid will cook down. During the 2 hours of simmering, whenever the sauce becomes extremely thick add 1 cup of water, stir, and continue to simmer and cook down the sauce. I ended up adding water 3 times during the 2 hour total cooking time. Don't rush this step! This is where the flavors develop.
- Once the sauce has cooked serve over prepare spaghetti squash or preferred alternate pasta.
Nutritional Information (1 cup of sauce)
280 calories - 23 g Protein, 8.5 g Carbs, 16.7 g Fat