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Korean Bulgogi Bolognese
with zucchini 'noodles' / pickled cucumbers

Active: 40 Total: 50
Bolognese (which is usually served with Italian meals) is a rich and flavorful meat sauce that lends itself well to this Korean-inspired twist. Using the sweet and savory flavors of Korean beef bulgogi, this sauce is great served over zucchini 'noodles'.
Smarts #1: Make a double batch of Bulgogi Bolognese tonight and the leftovers will become an easy, fast base for Thursday night's soup.
Smarts #2: This recipe could be made in the Instant Pot. For tips, join the Cook Smarts Instant Pot Facebook Group.


Korean Bulgogi Bolognese (enough for 2 nights):
  • Carrots - 8 oz , diced
  • Garlic - 2 cloves , chopped
  • Stock, low-sodium beef - 1 cup (sub any type stock)
  • Bragg's / coconut aminos - 1/2 cup
  • Red pepper flakes - 1/2 tsp , more or less, to taste
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Beef, ground and lean - 2 lbs
  • Water - 1 Tbsp
  • Arrowroot powder - 1/2 tsp
Zucchini Noodles:
  • Zucchini - 12 oz , spiralized, cut into ribbons with a peeler, or cubed
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
Pickled Cucumbers:
  • Cucumbers - 8 oz , sliced
  • Sesame seeds, white (opt) - 1 tsp
  • Vinegar, rice - 1/2 cup


  1. Carrots / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Make sauce - Combine garlic, stock, aminos, and red pepper flakes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  3. Cucumbers - Slice cucumbers. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
  4. Make pickles - (Note: The longer ahead you make the pickles, the more tart and “pickle-y” they’ll be. You can also wait and toss this together 30 minutes before serving if you’d like them to retain their crunch and just be lightly dressed.) Combine cucumbers and sesame seeds in a small bowl or jar. Pour vinegar over top. (It’s okay if the cucumbers aren’t completely submerged in liquid, but you want them mostly covered. Add some more rice vinegar if needed.) (Can be done up to 3 days ahead.)
  5. Zucchini - Turn zucchini into 'noodles' with a spiralizer or peel off strips with a peeler. (Note: If you prefer, you can also just cube your zucchini to make a zucchini saute.) (Can be done 1 day ahead)

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  1. Heat a wok or Dutch oven with oil (for bolognese) over medium heat. Add carrots and saute for 1 minute to get carrots started cooking.
  2. To carrots, add beef and saute, breaking beef apart, until cooked through.
  3. Pour sauce over beef and stir to combine everything. Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes to let the flavors come together.
  4. While sauce simmers, whisk together water and arrowroot powder.
  5. Pour water / arrowroot mixture into beef and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until sauce thickens.
  6. Drain liquid off pickles (discard liquid) and season the pickles with some salt.
  7. Heat a wok or skillet with oil (portion for zucchini noodles) over medium heat. Add zucchini and saute just until zucchini is tender, 1 to 2 minutes for zucchini noodles or 3 to 5 minutes for cubed zucchini. Season with some salt.
  8. Serve Korean bolognese (reserve half for Thursday) over zucchini with pickles on the side. Enjoy!



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