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The Perfect Pre-Race Dinner: Pasta With Bolognese Sauce

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To perform at their best, athletes of all ages need to train well, get plenty of sleep, drink enough fluids, and eat a balanced, healthy diet.

In the days leading up to a competition or race, it becomes even more important to eat well to ensure your body has the energy reserves it needs for the big day. Pre-race dinner plays an essential role in preparing the body for competition. The main goal of this important meal is to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs to perform at its best. Pasta with Bolognese Sauce lives up to this challenge and tastes great too!

This rich, meaty dish provides plenty of protein, along with complex carbohydrates and good fat to replenish muscle. Add in a crunchy green salad with fresh vegetables and a loaf of crusty, handmade whole wheat bread and it’s a complete meal. Pasta with Bolognese sauce is a hearty and filling dish, so a light dessert with fresh fruit is all you need to top it off. Give it a try before your next big game! Recipe is enough for 10-12 people.

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· 1/4 pound prosciutto, diced

· 1 pound ground beef

· 1 pound ground pork

· 1 pound ground veal

· 1 large white onion

· 1 carrot

· 1 stalk of celery

· 2-4 cloves of garlic

· 1 bay leaf

2 (28 oz.) can whole Italian San Marzano plum tomatoes

A large handful of fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and chopped (reserve a few sprigs for garnish)

· 2 TBSP. Table salt for the pasta water

· 1-2 tsp. Kosher or sea salt to taste

· freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 can of tomato puree (optional)

· 2 cups beef broth

· 1 cup of red wine

· 2 (16 ounce) packs. Pasta: penne, spaghetti, fettuccini or tagliatelle

· FRESH grated parmesan for garnish


1. For best results, use a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven.

2. Cook the prosciutto over medium-high heat until crisp, about 10-12 minutes.

3. Add the beef, pork, and veal and gently brown, stirring frequently to mix ingredients and ensure even cooking, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard excess liquid.

4. While the meat is cooking, dice the carrot, onion and celery and finely chop the garlic. Mix in a small bowl.

5. Once the meat is done, add the vegetables and bay leaf and stir. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

6. Add the tomatoes and the juice from the can. Mash the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Add beef stock and red wine.

7. Add half of the basil leaves and season with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce heat, cover pot and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the sauce is very thick, add the tomato puree to thin it out a bit.

8. About 30 minutes before the sauce is ready, put on a very large pot of water (8 quarts/liter) and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add 2 heaping tablespoons of table salt and add the pasta. Stir gently and cook al dente (al dente). Reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water.

9. Remove the lid and add the rest of the chopped basil to the sauce. Mix gently.

10. Drain the pasta and place in a large serving bowl heated in the oven (200 degrees for 5 minutes). Add some of the sauce and toss gently to thoroughly coat the pasta. Add a splash of the reserved pasta water to smoothen the sauce. Garnish with additional sauce, freshly grated parmesan cheese and garnish with basil. Serve immediately.


If you don’t have ground beef, just double the beef or pork. Bacon or ham can be used in place of the prosciutto. If using prosciutto, be careful with seasoning as this type of Italian ham is very salty.

Thanks to Christine Coughlan

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