Friday, November 1, 2013

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Having a nice pasta dinner with friends and family on Halloween before Trick or Treating is a tradition for us.  This year, I made a traditional bolognese, made with milk and parmesan cheese, as well as my go-to slow cooker dairy free meat sauce for Charlie.  Our Halloween meal was complete with a salad and fantastic wine, brought by Ted's parents, and some tasty garlic bread brought by our very good friends. Dessert was Halloween candy, of course! And Ted's mom brought rice crispy treats shaped like pumpkins, decorated with jack-o-lantern faces. To make them dairy free for Charlie, she used coconut oil instead of butter, and they were awesome!

Ted makes a fantastic stove-top bolognese that he cooks slowly for half the day, but this slow-cooker bolognese comes in at a close second.  For busy days when you want a fantastic sauce that is easy yet still company-worthy, this is a great one to make.  We typically eat whole wheat pasta, but for a special occasion, such as Halloween, we buy really good fresh noodles.  When making a great sauce, fresh pasta is a really nice treat.

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Makes ~ 6 servings


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup organic carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound organic grass-fed ground beef
1 cup organic whole milk
1 (28oz) can organic diced tomatoes
1 (6oz) can organic tomato paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup organic whole milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


1. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat. Add carrots, onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain excess fat from pan and pour in 1 cup of milk. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer until milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes.

2. Place beef mixture in slow cooker. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Cook on low for 4 hours. Stir in 1/2 cup milk and parmesan cheese, and cook for 4 more hours on low.

(Recipe adapted from

What are the nutritional benefits of this meal? Compared with conventional beef, grass-fed beef is lower in total fat, higher in omega-3 fatty acids and higher in vitamins, particularly vitamin E. Carrots are very high in vitamin A (with one cup providing over 400% of the daily value), and they are also an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber. Onions are rich in quercetin (a type of antioxidant) and vitamin C. Canned tomato products contain more bioavailable lycopene compared with fresh tomatoes, and are high in vitamin C. Garlic contains flavonoids (a type of antioxidant), and is a great source of vitamins C and B6, and the mineral manganese.

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