Source:  Three generations of Nonni’s (about 1930’s)

Spaghetti alla Nonni Joanne
Spaghetti al la Nonni

Spaghetti with history

Bolognese is a traditional sauce hailing from the Bologna region of Italy. Bologna sits right below Milan and is between Genoa and Venice. My Italian roots take me directly from this region. From my mother’s side, our family is from Venice (Castel Franco), while my father’s side is from Genoa. Our family’s recipe of bolognese is not only a recipe of our region, but it is an authentic approach passed down from the Italian’s in my family.

Smell and Memories

Growing up, this was a familiar smell in both my home, and my Nonna’s. Going back to that connection between smell and memories. In an instant, I am brought back to my childhood with the smell of my bolognese simmering on the stove. Spending several summer’s at my grandparent’s house in Anaheim, cooking and aroma’s was a constant in that house. Coupled with a tiny cottage kitchen, my Nonna always had her sauce simmering. At times it was a ragu sauce simmering chicken or sausage, but most times it was her deliciously rich bolognese.

The importance of the simmer

Today, I’m making my version, coupled with my mom’s and my Nonna’s version. It’s a delightful, 3-Generation recipe. This sauce is all about the simmer. Simmering the sauce over an extended period gives the hearty rich flavors in the end result. A proper simmer is a temperature just below boiling. Keep an eye on your simmer, and keep the lid 1/4 bit cracked or open. This allows the liquids to escape as you want. This is a slippery slope with the simmer, as you don’t want to over-do it. At simmering stage, the heat allows the sauce to thicken, and the liquids to be absorbed. Once you see that stage, you can turn the heat to the lowest point and put the lid closed.

The authenticity of our recipe is spot on. The outcome is a rich, thick, deep in color savory sauce, loaded with Italian flair and herbs, it’s a recipe that can’t disappoint.

Spaghetti al la Nonni

This sauce can be smelled the instant you walk in the house, and the flavor and taste will last you a lifetime! Enjoy.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Pasta, Sauce
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • 1 large onion diced
  • 5 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large carrot peeled and finely graded
  • 1 stalk celery cleaned, finely chopped
  • 2 stems rosemary fresh
  • 10 pcs sage leaves finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lbs ground meat beef
  • 2 cans tomatoes pureed in mixer
  • 2-3 cloves garlic finely diced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup tomatoe puree
  • 2 TBS anise seeds
  • 1-2 whole italian sausage skin removed, stirred in


  • In a small to medium sauce pot, begin to cook together olive oil and diced onion and garlic until onion is transparent.
  • Add carrot, celery, rosemary, oregano, sage leaves and anise. Mix together and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add your meat  and cook until the pink is gone.
    Fresh ground meat seasoned for sauce
  • Now, add your pureed tomato’s, and pure puree, along with your stock, and wine.  This is a simmer method.  You should have plenty of liquid, now the sauce cooks down the liquid, and becomes nice and rich and thick.  Cook it for a few hours with lid on low-medium heat.  A heat that gives a slow boil or simmer.  You can cock the lid a bit open so the moisture can escape.  After about 30 min. at this cooking temperature, turn the heart to the low position, and put the lid securely on.  You can now walk away and let it cook and cook but very slowly. 
    tomato sauce, cooked down to perfection
  • Serve with some cheese on top
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Permanent link to this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.