30 Minute Meal/ Eat Like A Princess

Ground Beef Ragu Recipe – Princess Belle Inspired Recipe


This Easy Ground Beef Ragu is the perfect comfort meal. Rich & hearty, it is the perfect sauce to serve over pasta or polenta. Inspired by Princess Belle from the Beauty & the Beast fairytale, this family friendly weeknight meal will .


Princess Belle Recipe


What is a beef ragu?

Traditionally, a beef ragu is a saucy, slow cooked way to enjoy a budget cut of meat. After it simmers in a bath of simple ingredients, the meat becomes tender and fall-apart and perfect to top with thick and wide noodles. This recipe takes a typically weekend-only recipe and turns it into the perfect weeknight meal that kids will LOVE.


Eat Like A Princess Recipes


Welcome to the Eat Like A Princess Series!

I designed this series as a fun way to teach my daughters about new cultures through the classic Princesses in hopes that they will become more open to trying new foods, to understand other cultures better, and to enjoy exploring the world around them. All while still:

  • containing real food
  • be super easy
  • take about 30 minutes (or as close to it as we can).

You can see other recipes in this series here.



Quick Beef Ragu recipe


The Beauty and the Beast Story

Ahh, Beauty and the Beast! I think of all the “Princess” stories, this one is my most favorite. Sure, I can sure repeat every single word of “The Little Mermaid”, and I utterly adore “Brave”, but Belle is my girl. Nerdy, bookish, and craving adventure.  She is brave enough to take her father’s place in an enchanted castle and she doesn’t fear she has lost her mind when she starts to hold a conversation with a candlestick and a clock. Let’s forget all the theories about Stockholm Syndrome and let’s talk about that library, ok? THAT LIBRARY. It still makes me swoon damn near every time I see it.


The first appearance of the classic Beauty and the Beast story was in French in 1740, when it was written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Gallon de Villeneuve (phew, that is a NAME!). About 16 years later a woman named Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont abridged it (a lot! – she edited out a whole bunch of weird and creepy parts of the original story) and made it part of a series called “The Young Misses Magazine” in 1757. This later version became the standard version of the tale we now know and became quite popular in the 19th century.


In the 18th century, France was a happening place. Paris was the second largest city in Europe, the construction of the Pantheon, the founding of the Louvre, the building of the Church of Saint-Sulpice, the French Revolution, and too much more. (More detailed history of France can be found here). For the average Parisian, the staple diet was bread, meat and wine. And unless you were wealthy and had your own well, water was collected and paid for from fountains around the city. For some, it was an awesome time, and for others – not so much.


Beef Ragu Recipe for Belle


So you might be thinking… “Jenni, this beef ragu looks awesome and all – buuuut its most definitely Italian and you just talked a whole bunch about France! What gives?!” Well, I’ll tell you!


  • First, there isn’t a WHOLE lot of distinction between a typical French Ragout, which is a stew of meat and/or veggies. The Italian version, which was totally borrowed from the French, is a meat based sauce served over pasta or polenta. The Italian version is more of a stew/sauce than the French version, which has more liquid. But both are saucey, hearty, and pronounced the same way. You say toe-MAY-to, I say toe-MAH-to. The version I have made is really more of a Northern Italian dish than a French dish, but I had my reasons why.
  • Second, Belle is kind of lower middle class a the beginning of the story – budget cuts of meat probably what she most likely ate (hello ground beef!). Add some wine in the sauce and pair it with some crusty bread, and you have basically the diet of the average French person at that time period.
  • Third, in the cartoon version of the movie, when Belle makes her way down to the kitchen to find some food, a plate of Beef Ragu makes its appearance among all that food, which is obviously a big sign that says “hey make me!”
  • Fourth, I kind of do whatever I want. But if you need more reasons why I made this recipe, in that scene where she is being entertained by dancing food and silverware, we see Belle try a finger-lick of the ragu. To me, this means it was a more of a thicker saucy consistency like an Italian Ragu instead of a thinner broth with chunky pieces like a typically French Ragout. And because she had been at the castle like an hour at this point, I am guessing a “quick win” was exactly what the kitchen staff was looking for.


So, Ragu! With ground beef!


Plate of Beef Ragu


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Quick Ground Beef Ragu Shortcuts:

  • Using Ground Beef is a great way to make this meal cheaper and faster! Use a low fat percentage because we are going to add in more fat and flavor with other ingredients.
  • Prep veggies ahead of time to make it even faster. Use a food chopper to make the veggies super small and super fast!
  • You can use store-bought egg noodles or pappardelle, but I highly recommend you make your own


Beef Ragu in Le Crueset Braiser


Get your Kids in the Kitchen:

  • Children aged 0-3 can help you pick you the produce, mix the homemade pasta, and add the fresh cheese and parsley to the top.
  • Children aged 4-7 can help you do everything above plus mince the produce, especially if you use a food chopper with a handle. They can also help you open the cans of the tomatoes and measure everything out, as well as use kitchen shears to cut the bacon into small pieces. They can also help roll out the pasta by hand.
  • Children aged 8-12 can help you do everything above plus cook the meat, cut the pasta and help plate the meal.

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise!


Beef Ragu with Egg Noodles


Read More about Princess Belle:

*This post contains affiliate links. See more about what that means on my disclosure page.

  • First Stories: Beauty and the Beast by Dan Taylor is a lovely first look at the classic story. Full of gorgeous and vibrant illustrations and interactive push, pull, and slide features, this board book is perfect for little hands!

  • I love this version of Beauty and the Beast by Ursula Jones. The illustrations are beautiful, and while the book is aimed at kids 4-8, it has a lovely and advanced vocabulary (words like “ramshackle”, “ghastly” and “gabbled”), is full of fun and sarcastic prose, and lovely illustrations that help to illuminate the story. 

  • Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley is a great retelling for pre-teen girls. I actually remember reading this some friends of mine and have loved it ever since I was a little girl. 


Making Pasta


How To Make Your Own Pasta:

This rustic pasta kind of makes this recipe. I mean, the ragu will be just as good without it, but there is something so super fun about making your own pasta. And the light in your little’s ones eyes when they serve their family pasta they made is just awesome.

It’s seriously a LOT easier than you think! And so worth it. Homemade pasta tastes fantastic, nothing like the dried stuff! It’s slightly thick and chewy, with a great bite to it. And the size and thickness is perfect for the saucy ragu.

Basically, DO IT!

  • In a food processor, pulse together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 TBSP Olive Oil, 1 tsp salt and 3 eggs for 30-60 seconds. If the dough looks too dry (like sandy pebbles or quinoa), add in 1 TBSP of water. If it looks too wet add in 1 TBSP of flour.
  • Place in a bowl and allow it to sit on the counter while you start making the ragu. When the ragu gets to the part where it is simmering away, come back to the pasta. You can also refrigerate it up to 24 hours later, but make sure that you allow it to come to room temperature before you start to roll it.
  • Dump a little flour onto your counter and give it a quick knead to combine really well. The trick here is to always keep everything well floured. Divide the dough into 1/4ths and keep the dough you aren’t working with covered.
  • Dust the counter, the dough, and the rolling pin with flour, then roll out the dough until you get it as thin as you possibly can. Keep the dough moving and continually pick it up and reflour so it isn’t sticking to anything. When in doubt, add a little more flour. The pasta will thicken as it cooks, so really get it super thin.
  • Slice the dough into thin strips – don’t worry about imperfect edges or straight lines too much. This is rustic pasta and you are cooking with kids. Whatever happens, t’s totally fine. Place the cut pasta under the cloth with the un-rolled dough and keep working until you are done.
  • Place the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. You only need to cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain and serve immediately.


Quick Beef Ragu for Princess Belle - Eat Like A Princess

Quick Beef Ragu for Princess Belle - Eat Like A Princess

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

This easy weeknight beef ragu is the perfect comfort meal. It is rich and hearty and has the perfect sauce to serve over pasta or polenta. This ground beef ragu recipe is inspired by Princess Belle from Beauty and the Beast.


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 TBSP oil
  • 1 onion, chopped super tiny
  • 2 carrots, diced super tiny
  • 1 celery stalk, diced super tiny
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb ground beef, lowest fat content you can get
  • 4 oz mushrooms, diced super tiny
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • bay leaf
  • 1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can tomato puree (or sauce, but not marinara/spagetti sauce)
  • 1/2 cup water, beef stock, or wine
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated romano cheese
  • pasta, for serving - pasta that is wide like fresh egg noodles or pappardelle.


  1. Dice the onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms super tiny.
  2. Heat a large pot of water to boiling.
  3. Cook the pasta to package directions. Drain, and set aside, keeping warm.
  4. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  5. Dice the bacon into small pieces and cook until mostly done. Remove from pan and set aside. Keep drippings in the pan.
  6. Add the onion, carrot and mushrooms to the pan with the bacon drippings and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Add in the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, or until nice and fragrant.
  8. Add in the ground beef and italian seasoning and cook for 10 minutes, or until the beef is browned, stirring frequently.
  9. Stir in the diced tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the liquid of choice (water, wine or broth), and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle with freshly grated romano cheese and freshly chopped parsley.
  11. Enjoy!


Mince the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms are finely as you can. This will not only speed up cooking time, but will also help to deepen the flavor as it cooks better and hide any unwanted specs that diners might discover (namely, your husband will never know you put mushrooms in there, unless he reads this, which he most likely won't....)

Looking for other easy meals designed to get kids to eat?

Check out the rest of the Eat Like A Princess Series!

Eat Like A Princess Series Recipes


  • Reply
    Jacque Hastert
    February 21, 2018 at 1:14 PM

    This sounds simply amazing!

  • Reply
    Monica | Nourish & Fete
    February 21, 2018 at 1:24 PM

    Oh my gosh, of course I love Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – I can practically hear and see the whole “Be Our Guest” scene unfolding as I think about this mouth-watering recipe. What a fun, fast, and delicious meal, so incredible to spice up a busy weeknight.

  • Reply
    Lisa | Garlic & Zest
    February 21, 2018 at 1:55 PM

    Holy cow — you went THERE! Homemade pasta! I’m impressed – I’m sure your family is loving this ragout — great way to get the kids to help, too.

  • Reply
    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
    February 21, 2018 at 2:34 PM

    I love this series idea! It’s so much fun to get the kids in the kitchen and so good for them. This looks like the perfect dish for the kiddos!

  • Reply
    linda spiker
    February 21, 2018 at 2:35 PM

    Perfection! Love that hand rolled pasta!

  • Reply
    Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
    February 21, 2018 at 5:02 PM

    I am all about getting kids into the kitchen. My grandson LOVES helping….and I let him as often as I can. I loved nothing more than helping my baba in the kitchen when I was a kid. Love the sound of this easy recipe….so delicious.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2018 at 5:11 AM

    I love your Disney princess history. And this ragu! So simple, but so flavorful. Mouth watering!!!

  • Reply
    David @ Cooking Chat
    February 22, 2018 at 12:44 PM

    fun idea for this series! I am a big fan of ragu style sauces, and appreciate the tips here for expediting the process.

  • Reply
    Dominique | Perchance to Cook
    February 22, 2018 at 10:17 PM

    I LOVE this series; how fun! This ragu sounds really yummy, especially with added bacon! 🙂

  • Reply
    Eileen Kelly
    February 23, 2018 at 1:15 AM

    I absolutely love that you are doing such a fun activity with your daughter . She will be full of knowledge and your delicious food. Love this Ragu, super flavorful and tasty!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 3:32 AM

    1- I love this series SO MUCH! and 2- I was thinking just that- this is Italian! But you totally convinced me- and I love that you paid enough attention to know that she was licking ragu off her finger lol

    • Reply
      February 24, 2018 at 9:05 PM

      Haha I am glad I convinced you! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sam | Ahead of Thyme
    February 23, 2018 at 4:33 AM

    I am always looking for quick weeknight dinners. This looks perfect!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 10:06 AM

    Love the series Jenni! I know there are lots of adults who are wary of making their own pasta — I used to be one of them. 😀 Kudos to you for encouraging your daughter!

  • Reply
    Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
    February 23, 2018 at 3:34 PM

    First, I love this series. Second, I can’t wait to try this recipe! This Ragu looks amazing and a crowd pleaser!

  • Reply
    Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    February 25, 2018 at 12:57 PM

    I love the idea of teaching kids about different cultures plus expanding their taste. If you don’t introduce different foods to them they’ll never eat them. What a shame! And kids should help in the kitchen!! I was always in the kitchen with my mamma. Your dish sounds delicious. Special yet easy enough for a weekday meal.

  • Reply
    Kathryn @ FoodieGirlChicago
    February 25, 2018 at 4:31 PM

    I love a good meat-based pasta sauce and love that you made your own pasta too!

  • Reply
    February 25, 2018 at 8:43 PM

    So you are my hero for making homemade pasta and I love the story of this recipe. So awesome to get the kids in the kitchen and introduce them to the world of food and cooking early. … and the Beef Ragu looks amazing!!

  • Reply
    Camilla Hawkins
    February 26, 2018 at 12:02 AM

    I am very impressed I have never made my own pasta, would be great to do with my daughter. Your ragu looks delicious-)

  • Reply
    February 26, 2018 at 1:30 AM

    What an adorable idea! I love the princess theme – and Belle’s my favorite too. 😉 This pasta looks AMAZING.

  • Reply
    February 26, 2018 at 3:18 AM

    I love a good ragu recipe, this looks delicious! And such a cute play on the movie.

  • Reply
    Rezel Kealoha
    February 26, 2018 at 5:00 AM

    This is such a great idea to teach your daughters about other cultures food and using stories that they know! I also loved reading about the history of it all. Loved this article!

  • Reply
    Britt @ A Lil' Sweet, Spice, & Advice
    February 26, 2018 at 5:40 AM

    I absolutely love that you made the pasta from scratch without a pasta roller. Now I feel confident enough to make pasta from scratch without a pasta roller, so thank you! The ragu looks sooo delicious and like you’ll want to eat the whole pot by yourself. LOL

  • Reply
    Nico @ yumsome
    February 26, 2018 at 10:05 AM

    “Be our guest, be our guest
    Put our service to the test
    Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
    And we’ll provide the rest
    Soup du jour, hot hors d’oeuvres
    Why, we only live to serve
    Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious
    Don’t believe me, ask the dishes!”

    I love Beauty and the Beast!

    Your ragù looks splendid; I may not eat meat but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a delicious-looking meal when I see it!

  • Reply
    Ben Myhre
    February 26, 2018 at 12:00 PM

    Such an awesome post! Some history and tying it together with how you are going to cook your meal, which, incidentally, looks terrific!

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