I first saw this recipe on Instagram (of all places) last September. It caught my attention because the flavor profile looked unusual but appetizing, and I wanted to try it out. The instructions were a little vague, which a year ago was a problem for me. I was just learning to cook, and as long as I was following a recipe with precision, I had confidence about the outcome. I tried this anyway, and it came out really good.

Nowadays I’m far less intimidated by improvisation in the kitchen, so I wanted to take another crack at this. It was as delicious as I remembered (or maybe even better). I served it with brown rice pasta for the kids and roasted delicata squash halves for the adults. I managed not to freak out when my veggie-averse 6-year-old asked to have his meat in the squash and then ate the whole thing.

Pumpkin Bolognese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, diced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt + additional to taste
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce (organic, no sugar added — I like Muir Glen)
  • 1 cup cooked pumpkin (canned or homemade)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  1. Melt the coconut oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onions for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until very soft and starting to turn golden brown.
  3. While the onions are cooking, put the pumpkin and coconut milk together in a blender and blend until very smooth.
  4. Add the garlic to the onions and cook for about a minute longer.
  5. Crumble the beef into the pot and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until no pink is visible.
  6. Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and stir for about a minute until the spices are very fragrant.
  7. Add the tomato sauce and pumpkin/coconut milk mixture to the pot.
  8. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Season to taste.