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Need help with meal planning to pair with Marcella Hazan Bolognese

jstarr Apr 13, 2012 07:22 AM

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. c
    CDouglas RE: jstarr Apr 13, 2012 08:20 AM

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

    1. e
      escondido123 RE: jstarr Apr 13, 2012 08:29 AM

      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
        ttoommyy RE: escondido123 Apr 13, 2012 08:54 AM

        (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: escondido123
          jstarr RE: escondido123 Apr 13, 2012 10:25 AM

          Any recipes for the spring salad?

          1. re: jstarr
            escondido123 RE: jstarr Apr 13, 2012 11:43 AM

            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.

        2. Karl S RE: jstarr Apr 13, 2012 08:48 AM

          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
            escondido123 RE: Karl S Apr 13, 2012 11:44 AM

            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
              ttoommyy RE: escondido123 Apr 13, 2012 11:50 AM

              "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
                Karl S RE: escondido123 Apr 13, 2012 12:46 PM

                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
                  linengirl RE: Karl S Apr 13, 2012 02:06 PM

                  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. mbfant RE: jstarr Apr 13, 2012 02:30 PM

              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
                linengirl RE: mbfant Apr 13, 2012 02:32 PM

                That sounds heavenly!

                1. re: mbfant
                  escondido123 RE: mbfant Apr 13, 2012 02:52 PM

                  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
                    tim irvine RE: escondido123 Apr 14, 2012 10:26 AM

                    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
                    jstarr RE: mbfant Apr 13, 2012 03:02 PM

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

                    1. re: jstarr
                      mbfant RE: jstarr Apr 13, 2012 11:16 PM

                      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
                        jstarr RE: mbfant Apr 14, 2012 05:55 AM

                        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. u
                    Unkle Al RE: jstarr Apr 14, 2012 10:45 AM

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


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