Grandma Lea’s Ragù sauce with Herbs

A plate of pasta with meat and sauce on it.

First of all, there is only one acknowledged “authentic” recipe for Ragù Bolognese. However, if you want something similar to that magical sauce, something with a fresher taste, try my grandma’s recipe. You won’t regret it. 

My grandma Lea, who was from Ferrara, made her own ragù with meat, herbs, and fresh tomatoes, which resulted in a lighter sauce.

What is the difference between my recipe and Bolognese ragù?

My ragù is lighter because I do not add any milk or wine. The herbs give a stronger taste and the red pepper flakes make it slightly spicy. My ragù, full of flavor and rich tastes, is not as red as the traditional one, but it is still delightful.

A pan with pasta and meat in it.

Keep in mind that cooking a tasty ragù takes quite a lot of time; there’s nothing worse than undercooked ragù. Give it plenty of time to absorb all of its flavors so that the ingredients meld together to create this masterpiece. So be patient during this long cooking process. 

Ragù sauce with aromatics by Stefania’s granny

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword bolognese ragù, ragù sauce, ragù sauce with aromatics
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes


  • ½ lb of ground beef (85% lean): (227g)
  • ½ lb top-quality pork sausage (227g)
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 sprig of fresh basil
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 ½ cups of chopped ripe tomatoes (500g)
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • Salt, pepper to taste
Servings 6 people


  • Wash and dice the celery, carrots, and onion;
  • Heat the oil in a pan and add the vegetables. Fry over medium heat until softened and golden brown. Be careful not to burn them; otherwise, the ragù will taste bitter and unpleasant;
  • Stir in the beef and the pork until browned. In the meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into coarse pieces and add them to the meat;
  • Add the basil and the rosemary. Tie up the sprig of rosemary so it doesn’t get dispersed throughout your pasta;
  • Cover and cook over medium-low heat. The liquid from the tomatoes will keep the meat moist. Simmer for about two hours;
  • After one hour, replace the “cooked” basil with fresh basil leaves to have a stronger Italian taste. If the sauce gets too dry, you can add some lukewarm water.
    The ragù is done when the sauce is evenly combined, the meat is softened but dense, and the basil-scented tomato sauce wafts through the air making you very hungry (between 2-3 hours).  
  • Serve it with tagliatelle or the pasta you like best;
  • Freeze the remaining sauce in glass containers. Combine it with a side plate: some crisp green salad or any fresh roasted vegetables, dressed with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and vinegar.
A plate of pasta with meat and sauce on it.

What pasta is best for ragù sauce?

For this ragù the demand for tagliatelle or pappardelle isn’t set in stone: you may choose any pasta shapes (spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, bow-ties), but fresh egg pasta pairs wonderfully with the sauce. It’s best 


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