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Quick Fix: Simple spaghetti with a taste of Bologna

| Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, 8:45 p.m.

This simple dinner will help you get through the busy holidays. Spaghetti Bolognese with a side dish of Herbed Zucchini is a simple, satisfying Italian meal. The gastronomic city of Bologna claims the origin of this dish, although it seems that every Italian cook has a favorite recipe.

While traditional meat sauce, or ragu, is usually left to simmer for hours, this recipe captures the essence without long hours of preparation. The secret is to let the onions, celery and carrots cook until they are sweet, and then add the crushed, canned tomatoes.

Slicing vegetables very thin helps them to cook faster; frozen, chopped onions help, too. Serve with some crusty Italian bread warmed in the oven. You can slice the vegetables for the sauce and Herbed Zucchini at one time in a food processor fitted with a thin slicing blade.

Wine suggestions: In Bologna, they drink lambrusco with this dish, but that's a bit sweet; try a chianti or val policella.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Water

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup frozen, chopped onions

1 rib celery, thinly sliced (½ cup)

1 medium-size carrot, thinly sliced (½ cup)

2 medium-size cloves garlic, crushed

6 ounces ground lean beef (95 percent lean)

¼ cup dry white wine

2 cups canned tomatoes, crushed

Orange zest from 1 medium-size orange (about ½ teaspoon)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ pound uncooked dry spaghetti

Place a large pot with 3 to 4 quarts water on to boil for the pasta. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot. Saute for 5 minutes, without browning. Add the garlic and beef, crumbling the beef with a spoon. Saute for 2 minutes. Add the white wine and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, for about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and orange zest and gently simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 9 minutes, or according to package instructions. Drain and serve sauce over the pasta.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 510 calories, 12 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 108 milligrams cholesterol, 30 grams protein, 66 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams dietary fiber, 135 milligrams sodium

Herbed Zucchini

2 medium-size zucchini, thin-sliced lengthwise (2 cups)

Water

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the zucchini in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Or, bring water to a boil in a saucepan and add the zucchini. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain, leaving about 2 tablespoons of water in the pan. Return the zucchini to the bowl or pot. Toss the cooked zucchini with the olive oil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories (72 percent from fat), 4.8 g fat (0.8 g saturated, 3.4 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 1.4 g protein, 4.1 g carbohydrates, 1.4 g fiber, 11 mg sodium.

Shopping list

Here are the ingredients you'll need for tonight's Dinner in Minutes.

To buy: 1 small bunch celery, ½ pound 96 percent lean ground beef, 1 orange, 1 package frozen chopped onions, 1 19-ounce can crushed tomatoes, 2 medium zucchini and 1 small package dried spaghetti.

Staples: Carrot, garlic, olive oil, dry white wine, dried oregano, salt and black peppercorns.

Linda Gassenheimer is a food writer for the Miami Herald. Write to her in care of Living, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, D.L. Clark Building, 503 Martindale St., Pittsburgh, PA, 15212, or emailtribliving@tribweb.com.

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