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what to serve as sides with bolognese?

I love making a big pot of spaghetti bolognese, but I always feel like i need some sides to go with. Any favorites you can share?

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  1. Broccoli rabe or spinach sauteed in a good, light olive oil with some garlic is always nice.

    1. I think you might want something lighter and acidic to go on the side. How about:
      roasted asparagus with shaved parmesan and aged balsamic drizzled on top?
      steamed broccoli with lemon-garlic crumb topping?
      eggplant caponata?
      caprese salad?

      1. Bolognese is such a one pot meal, I hardly ever serve it with anything more than crusty bread and a green salad.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ballulah

          Yeah, it sounds kind of boring, but I really don't think anything else goes nearly as well. I always struggle with different sides for pasta- I planned WAY too many pasta dishes this week and I'm afraid my husband doesn't love salad as much as I do! Oh well, more for me!

          1. re: ballulah


            a nice bowl of spaghetti with bolognese with a side salad of greens or even chopped fennel tossed with some evoo and balsamic and a nice piece of french bread!

            Dinner is SERVED!

            1. re: ballulah

              I think an arugula salad would be perfect. Simply dressed.

            2. a delicious dark green salad with maytag bleu, craisins, pecans and a balsamic reduction. Crusty bread slathered with fresh garlic butter. Love in a pot.

              2 Replies
              1. re: chelleyd01

                You said it with much more feeling than I did, but yes, exactly. Hahaha. Although I would pass on the craisins myself, I haven't been able to find any that don't have artificial sweeteners. Anyone have any ideas if they are to be found anywhere? For the dressing I would recommend my recent concoction...I have a nice bottle of walnut oil, which I'll use a few good glugs of and squeeze a lemon or two into (depending on how much I'm making), I smash a garlic clove and plop that in squished but not chopped to be removed later, and salt and fresh ground pepper. It doesn't sound like much, but the walnut oil is seriously divine.

                1. re: ballulah

                  craisins was a bad choice. My local health food co-op has a dried cranberry, no sweeteners, just chewy goodness.

              2. Wilted spinach or sauteed lacinato kale with garlic and oil and pine nuts. Or roasted winter vegetables drizzled with walnut oil. A simple green salad with oil and meyer lemon juice, salt & pepper; not a composed salad.

                The idea is: simple, not complex. The ragu is complex. It should have no competition. It should be counterpointed by simplicity.

                No cheesy side dishes. I repeat no cheesy side dishes. Nothing to compete in richness with the dairy in the ragu bolognese.

                1. Hmmm.. You don't serve it as a primi pasta course before the secondi?

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Carnitas

                    In my experience pasta dishes as formidable as bolognese preclude a secondi (unless of course the portion is substantially small enough to allow a course after). But in general a dish like bolognese is the centerpiece of the meal. Finish up with a salad and maybe a dolce after that.

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      "Small enough" indeed. You're clearly not from Bologna.

                      1. re: Carnitas

                        I'm unclear as to what you're trying to say.

                        1. re: Carnitas

                          I'm from Bologna. On behalf of Bologna, I would like to apologize for this raving lunatic.

                          1. re: chunkylover24

                            @ chunkylover24

                            Since you're from Bologna, why don't you be the one to say (1) tagliatelle, not spaghetti, and (2) nothing on the side, not even in your dreams. A nice portion of tagliatelle al rag├╣ (bolognese) could, however, be followed by a crisp green salad, hold the garlic bread.

                    2. Double batch of Hazan's Bolognese this weekend and served with some homemade pasta, nice wide cut and a little garlic bread, fullstop.

                      1. I like bolegnaise with a nice fresh green salad... it cuts the greasiness and contrasts nicely with the tomato flavour.

                        1. Since I have lived in the same household for 47 years with a woman of Italian heritage, I also suggest 'una insalata verde.' By tradition, the people of Italian heritage that I know eat the salad after the entrees, not before. Restaurants like to fill you on herbage before the entrees so that you get filled up on the salad as well as bread. Then restaurants can serve smaller portions at inflated prices.

                          ChiliDude (not of Italian heritage)
                          Member, Board of Directors of IL CIRCOLO ITALIANO

                          1. Lately I have been making a simple arugula salad of baby arugula and shaved pecorino romano drizzled with hazelnut oil and lemon juice. Simple, easy, and a wonderful complement to pasta.
                            My SO loves it and recently asked me why no one serves this in restaurants!

                            1. We never have any accompaniment with pasta dishes (except lasagne). Some salad leaves as a starter, certainly - but not with.