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Apr 13, 2012 07:22 AM

Need help with meal planning to pair with Marcella Hazan Bolognese

Looking to the board for some advice. Tomorrow I'm cooking dinner for 4. I'm looking for a dish to pair with the referenced main course.

I was thinking of starting with a simple Caprese salad. Then I would do the Bolognese as the main. Any recommendations of another dish to round out the meal?


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  1. How about Straciatella? It is a light egg-drop soup.

    1. I would not start with a Caprese salad for a couple of reasons. First, it contains tomatoes which you already have in the Bolognese. Second, it is not a seasonal dish since it is spring not summer if you are in North America. Why not do a spring salad that includes asparagus--you could do them on a bed of salad greens dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. As to a side with the pasta, I never serve one with Bolognese because it is such a rich dish it doesn't seems to need one. But if you want a vegetable, consider rabi which has a bitterness that pairs well with the almost sweetness of Bolognese.

      3 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        (sorry, I responded to the wrong post. This is in response to the OP, not escondido123)

        I too would not serve a caprese salad with a Bolognese since the caprese salad is not of the cuisine of the Emilia-Romagna. As to serving a soup as another poster suggested, in Italy, it is either soup or pasta, not both. I would suggest a traditional ER appetizer: a fritto misto of spring vegetables, such as is pictured here.

          1. re: jstarr

            At my Farmers' Market right now there is fennel, yellow beets, asparagus, snap peas, radishes and lettuces. I saw a repeat of a French Food at Home episode and she made a raw salad, dressed with lemon zest, juice and oil, that included all of these shaved paper thin and the peas julliened. That would be very pretty on a bed of lettuce. Or you could do fennel, onion, orange and lettuce. Or just the lettuce topped with steamed asparagus and lemon vinaigrette--you could add a little chopped egg on top for a finishing touch or some lemon zest.

        1. Just be aware that the bolognese is rather rich to have as a main. (About 225 calories just for a half cup of sauce, which would dress 3 ounces of dried pasta in addition....).

          4 Replies
          1. re: Karl S

            But that's no richer than a steak and gratin potatoes....or maybe just the steak. Bolognese is to me a special occasion dish well worth the calories, no?

            1. re: escondido123

              "Bolognese is to me a special occasion dish well worth the calories, no?"

              Yes, I agree! I served a Bolognese as part of a 5-course meal last year.

              1. re: escondido123

                It's just relevant when considering how to balance out the meal. When you make Bolognese for a typical American dinner portion rather than a typical Italian primi portion, it changes how you balance out the meal, that's all.

                1. re: Karl S

                  I agree. Having made that particular bolognese many times, it is rich. And heavy. So balancing it out with something vegetably would be my choice, too. It's spring: maybe baby artichokes? Or pan roasted asparagus with a little olive oil, parm and lemon? But oh... That bolognese.... SUCH a treat. Your guests are lucky!

            2. Let me add a voice to the chorus of No Caprese. It is totally incompatible with the bolognese ragù in so many ways. You don't say what you're putting the ragù on, but it should be tagliatelle, so I presume it is. I'd serve an antipasto of sliced prosciutto and salami (not garlicky, preferably something Emilian, like Felino) with perhaps some marinated artichoke hearts, olives, and the like. You could sneak in some teensy mozzarellas. The pasta has to be alone, no side dishes. Follow it with a salad of field greens, and perhaps follow that with a large piece of parmigiano-reggiano, which your guests can take chunks of, or you can make the chunks and serve them. If you have some serious balsamic vinegar you could offer it to put drops of on the cheese. You could also serve the parmigiano and balsamic at the front end of the meal, with an aperitivo wine.

              6 Replies
                1. re: mbfant

                  Although I know tagliatelle is traditional, I love this sauce with campanelle, which has a "softness" that is almost like egg pasta to me. I also like the way its cupped shape holds the sauce.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    I always make paparedelle of four eggs, a cup of AP, and a cup of semolina. I like to bracket it with lighter things. I'd go baby artichokes, Bolognese, salad (mixed greens, celery, onion, bell pepper, and olive oil and red wine vinegar), and for dessert something fruit, like oranges in white wine.

                  2. re: mbfant

                    Sounds great actually. Do you have a recipe I can refer to?

                    1. re: jstarr

                      Recipe for what? In my suggestions, except for the ragù, it's all a question of buying really good stuff and assembling it. To stay in the Emilian theme, I would exceptionally suggest balsamic vinegar on the salad instead of red wine vinegar. But not supermarket junk, and good extra virgin olive oil. You have to have egg pasta, or egg and spinach. Better to buy good dried than supermarket fresh, which often contains no yolks (I just learned that from a Cook's Illustrated book). The real secret to good Italian cooking is the shopping.

                      1. re: mbfant

                        Im going to an Italian specialty store and was looking for an idea of how much of each meat, etc. to buy for the antipasto. Would you dress that?

                        For the salad, would you simply do arugula or mixed greens with balsamic?

                  3. Alice Waters fennel, mushroom & parm salad is always a big hit and unusual and goes well with the bolognese.