It’s cold, it’s dark… and I have never met anyone who doesn’t LOVE spaghetti bolognese! For me it was a childhood favourite, particularly in winter, it reminds me of being at the snow with my family and cousins… and of rain on our tin roof at my parents farm.
Because of these memories, and its ability to satisfy the hungriest crowd, spaghetti bolognese has remained a weekend staple as I grew up.
Now, anyone who knows my family, knows that my husband can cook one and only dish – and that is bolognese sauce! So, I do have to tread very carefully here… his sauce is really very tasty, and I am so happy when he is home all weekend and I don’t have to cook! The difference is, that my bolognese uses ONLY whole foods (not a jar of sauce in sight), lots of vegetables, no artificial anything AND it has a secret ingredient that is guaranteed to make your tastebuds dance!
The veggies in my dish not only add lots of fibre, they also add bulk, meaning the mince goes further, and there is enough left for lunch the next day… oh and don’t worry, you can’t even tell the veggies are in there!
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 carrot, very finely diced
2 sticks celery, very finely diced
500gms (heart smart) beef mince
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 medium sized eggplant, finely cubed
4 roma tomatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms
1 cup chicken or beef stock (preferably homemeade)
1 1/2 cups pasatta (or you can use a can of Australian crushed tomatoes, no added salt)
1 red capsicum, finely diced
3 – 4 bay leaves
2 teaspoon dried oregano
4-5 Anchovies to taste! (SECRET INGREDIENT)
Spaghetti for serving – approx 1 cup cooked pasta per person.
1. In generous amount of olive oil, sautee onion, celery and carrot over a medium heat until the vegetables soften and begin to caramelise, sticking to the bottom of the pan a little.
2. Add the mince, garlic, tomato paste and anchovies and continue to fry until the mince breaks up and starts to brown. Give this process a good 10 minutes to allow the tomato paste to be cooked down and the bolognese mix to start to become quite sticky in the pan.
3. Add in the eggplant, mushrooms, roma tomatoes, capsicum, bay leaves and dried oregano and stir through well. Season well with your salt and pepper.
4. This next step takes time and is important when developing the flavour. Allow the mince and vegetable mix to continue to cook, stirring frequently until all the vegetables have softened and the liquid has completely evaporated. Again, wait until the mince and vegetables start to caramelise and stick to the bottom of the pan. This will take a good 20 minutes at the least, and can be left to cook for up to an hour.
5. Add in the canned tomatoes and stock. Season well, stir thoroughly and then cover the pot, bringing the bolognese to a soft boil. Turn to simmer for 30 minutes minimum, ideally longer as more flavour will develop.
6. Ta – Dah! The most perfect bolognese that will satisfy adults and children alike!
You can make this even more tasty, and more of an adult dish, by adding a slug of red wine in step 3. Serve with lashings of your favourite cheese, or tun it into a lasagne… and ENJOY!!