Rigatoni Bolognese

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This rigatoni bolognese recipe freezes beautifully. You can make the sauce up to two days ahead of time for an easy weeknight meal.

One of the ways I like to show people that I care is by making food for them.

Today I was inspired to make a comforting dish.

In this case it’s for our staff at Loka.

Although movies and televisions portray restaurant life as mornings in farmers markets and evenings chatting with guests it couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The kitchen arrives at 1pm and works at least 12 hours straight.

Our servers begin coming in at 3:30pm to catch up with what the kitchen has made and clean the restaurant dining room and guest bathrooms for a 5pm opening.

It’s a glamorous life.

So when Catelli asked us to share a story where pasta reunites us my first thought was Loka.

This easy rigatoni bolognese recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal and freezes beautifully.

With a small team it’s a race against time every day to be ready for opening.

But there’s one moment in the day where everyone stops and instead of being coworkers trying to get ready everyone becomes human again.

While pausing to eat there are 5-10 short minutes where people don’t talk about work.

They laugh and joke around while eating. It’s a special but short lived one between the servers and the kitchen.

The majority of the time it’s pasta, which gives everyone enough energy to get through the next 8 hours.

The pasta shape of choice at Loka is penne. So today I wanted to surprise everyone with something different – veal rigatoni bolognese

This easy rigatoni bolognese recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal and freezes beautifully.

Spaghetti Bolognese is Not Italian

Most people are familiar with spaghetti bolognese – which I learned in Bologna is not an Italian dish at all.

It simply doesn’t exist.

In Bologna there is a tagliatelle al ragout which is a fresh pasta with a meat sauce.

Legends has it that after World War II soldiers returned and asked for this dish from Bologna.

But American restaurants used dry pasta so they altered things a bit and spaghetti bolognese was born.

For this reason I feel perfectly comfortable making a modern swap on this traditional recipe.

I’ve swapped out spaghetti for rigatoni. Rigatoni is Sicilian where you see thicker sauces and the rigid lines make for great crevices to lock in the sauce.

This easy rigatoni bolognese recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal and freezes beautifully.

Rigatoni Bolognese with Ground Veal

This recipe uses ground veal but you could use any ground meat if you don’t eat veal. A 50/50 mixture of beef and pork is always delicious.

Pasta Bolognese on a white plate and pale blue background

Pasta Bolognese

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This rigatoni bolognese recipe freezes beautifully. You can make the sauce up to two days ahead of time for an easy weeknight meal.


  • 1 lb ground veal
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and small diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup 35% cream
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 pinch white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 500g rigatoni (1 package of Catelli®)


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add ground veal and cook for 5-6 minutes. Drain using a colander to remove fat. Reserve meat.
  2. Add canola oil to pot and sweat onions 2 minutes. Add carrot for one minute. Add herbs, garlic, ground fennel and black pepper for 2 more minutes. Deglaze by adding red wine and scraping any bits off the bottom of pot.
  3. Add cooked meat. cream, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce to a summer for one hour. Stir every 5-10 minutes so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  4. Season to taste with salt.
  5. Cook the box of rigatoni according to directions and toss with sauce.


If you can't find crushed San Marzano tomatoes, simply buy whole and pulse twice in a food processor.

You can make the sauce up to two days ahead of time for an easy weeknight meal. It also freezes beautifully.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 Amount Per Serving: Calories: 443Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 128mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 26g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although BaconisMagic.ca attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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This easy rigatoni bolognese recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal and freezes beautifully.

Disclosure: This chicken rigatoni bolognese post was a paid partnership with Catelli Pasta. 


Join the Conversation

  1. Colleen Milne says:

    I love that you take time to eat with your staff. Restaurants that do this are showing appreciation to their employees and that plays forward to the customers. And this dish looks so good! I love to use rigatoni, the texture is so nice. Thanks for sharing.

  2. The perfect pasta with a thick sauce like that. I personally love the fact I can freeze a casserole dish of this for busy (or lazy) nights.

  3. Lombok Wander Tour and Travel says:

    cant wait to try this recipe during the weekend.

  4. Fiona Maclean says:

    I love the idea of fennel – I can imagine it gives a lovely sweet note to this dish

  5. Mindi Hirsch says:

    What an awesome staff meal! I would totally try this recipe. With ingredients like fennel, red wine and san marzano tomatoes,I already know that I’ll love this dish.

  6. Looks delicious, will give it a go. I had no idea Spag Bol doesn’t really exist as Italian dish. Italy is one place I still have been to for a holiday, and I really should as I love the food.

  7. Kavey at Kavey Eats says:

    I’m with you that cooking and feeding people with love is one of the best ways to show how much you care and us great that your staff at Loka are able to snatch a shared meal together before service every day. Penne is our choice of pasta shape for ragu too, and this recipe looks spot on!

  8. The Finer Cookie/Kim says:

    Looks delicious. Every one of your posts focuses on how food brings people together. So nice.

  9. I also was shocked when I went to Bologna and didn’t bolognese anywhere on the menu! Luckily I smartened up and ate me face off devouring ragout! Will definitely try this recipe!

  10. Samantha | My Kitchen Love says:

    Such a wonderful post about a special time each day with your restaurant family. I had no idea that Bolognese wasn’t Italian, but it all makes sense. I also love that you used veal in this recipe; gives it that added special thought and ingredient. More love for certain.

  11. Ginni @Legalcooking says:

    Beautiful recipe and gorgeous pictures. I love the fact that you take extra care in chopping and dicing your carrots and garlic in equal size. I do that too, and I love anyone who makes that extra effort in prepping their ingredients!

  12. the recipe sounds so rich, and from the picture this looks like a delicious dish. It’s not hard for me to judge though. I love ALL things pasta ?.

  13. Agness of Run Agness Run says:

    Great Italian dish. The Italian cuisine is one of my favourite and this recipe is so palatable, Dave and Ayngelina!

  14. lara dunston says:

    Love this and having worked in and been around restaurants during staff meal – we’re usually winding up a photo shoot at that time – love your story! Terence is actually making us his very classic ragù alla bolognese tonight. Many years ago he wrote about the mythical spaghetti bolognese that didn’t exist in Italy. He’ll often make a fresh tagliatelle, but if we don’t have time, he’ll use dry. That was such a lovely gesture, too 🙂

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