Gluten-Free Recipe of the Week #5: Penne Bolognese

If you’ve read my Monthly Meal Plan posts, you know I like to experiment with new recipes. Sometimes these experiments work out really well…and sometimes they don’t. Whenever I modify a recipe, I take lots of notes so that I can recreate it in the future if it turns out well.

For my reference and yours, I’ve decided to post my recipe experiments on this blog. I plan to post at least one recipe per week. I will include a link to the original recipe as well as allergen/special diet information, notes about my changes and lessons learned, pictures from various stages of cooking, and my overall impression of the dish. Most recipes will be main dishes, but I may also include desserts or snacks as well.  

Leave a comment below if you think there’s a recipe I might like to try for a future post!

This week’s recipe is Healthy Recipe Ecstasy’s
My Favorite Bolognese Pasta
(served with GF Penne)

*Please click HERE for a printable copy of this recipe*

Information for Top 8 Allergens

  • Free From:
    • Dairy (the picture above includes a cheese garnish, but the recipe itself contains no dairy)
    • Egg
    • Gluten (as long as you use GF pasta)
    • Tree Nuts
    • Fish
    • Crustacean Shellfish
    • Peanuts
    • Soy (check labels on cooking oil, stock, and spices)


  • This meal is time-consuming to cook. I do not recommend it as an easy weeknight meal. However, it would make a great Sunday night dinner and provide several lunches for the week.
  • To save time, I recommend purchasing as many prepared items as possible. I was able to find the exact amount of (gluten-free!) pancetta I needed pre-diced. Many grocery stores also sell diced onion, carrot, and celery—if you are worried about potential gluten contamination, it may be worth chopping them yourself.

Pancetta via Positively Free Produce Prep 1 via Positively Free Produce Prep 2 via Positively Free

  • I *think* you could make this a slow-cooker meal, but you would use the slow-cooker starting at Step 3 for the simmering stage only (set on low for 4-6 hours, maybe?). Taking the time to brown the meat and saute the veggies is well worth the time and extra dishes. I plan to try it out, but let me know if you try it first!
  • I garnished my meal with fresh basil and pecorino romano cheese. To keep this recipe dairy-free, omit the cheese garnish. If you are making this without a cheese garnish, I highly recommend including a good amount of fresh basil for additional flavor.


  • I couldn’t find fresh Thyme, so I just used about ¾ teaspoon dried thyme (or to taste) in Step 4.
  • I subbed Wegmans Basting Oil in place of all olive oil used in the Bolognese and for cooking the Penne. It added a really nice depth of flavor to the meal.
  • I went to the store on Sunday night when they were all out of crushed tomatoes, so I blended a can of whole tomatoes in my vitamix instead:

Tomato Option via Positively Free Pureed Tomato via Positively Free

  • There weren’t any dried porcini mushrooms either, so I subbed dried chanterelles. I think any dried mushroom would probably work. I soaked, drained, rinsed, and chopped the chanterelles just as I would have with the porcinis:

Dried Mushrooms via Positively Free Mushroom Prep 2 via Positively Free Mushroom Prep 3 via Positively Free Mushroom Prep 4 via Positively Free

Additional Meal Components

I served the Bolognese sauce over Le Veneziane Penne. I cooked two packages (2 pounds) for 6 minutes in boiling, salted water (with some Basting Oil for good measure). I then transferred ½ cup of the pasta water and the drained pasta directly into the Bolognese sauce. I cooked everything for an additional 2 minutes. The penne was cooked to a perfect al dente texture.

Penne & Bolognese via Positively Free Penne Bolognese in Pot via Positively Free


Although this meal took a lot of effort (more than I have to give on a standard weekday), it was the perfect dinner for a chilly Winter Sunday night. It had amazing flavors, which just got better over time (making it a fantastic option for leftovers). Everyone in my family loved this meal—my three year-old was scraping every last bit out with his hands!