The Most Virtuous Bolognese Sauce Ever

Bolognese

This is, without doubt, hands-down, our family favourite. I tend to make a huge amount of the sauce as it's great to have portions of this to hand in the freezer for when you're in a hurry and want something filling and nutritious. I don't make a "traditional" sauce, in that I pack lots of vegetables into it – it's the perfect way to get vegetables into your kids without them finding a way to refuse. I defy even the fussiest of mini-palates NOT to love this. Also, I have a quick method of preparing it that leaves you alone to get on with other things. No standing around chopping for hours.

This version of bolognese, made in exactly the way described below, is virtually fat-free and has no syn-value on Slimming World, so you can really fill up on it!

Ingredients

Feel free to adjust amounts if you want to make a larger portion of sauce.

  • 2/3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • 4/5 medium sized mushrooms
  • Half a courgette

You could vary this but adding other vegetables. I've been known to use a few cubes of butternut squash and some spinach leaves, for example.

  • Fresh or dried herbs (mixed herbs or oregano are preferred)
  • A good glug of Balsamic vinegar
  • A few dashes of lemon juice 
  • A beef stock cube (if using a small packet of mince, this helps boost the flavour through the vegetables)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Smoked paprika (half a teaspoon)
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Half a teaspoon of mustard powder
  • A cup of passata
  • One tin of chopped tomatoes
  • One packet of lean steak mince (it cannot be the cheaper, fattier stuff)

Preparation

Stage 1:

Get a large frying pan on the heat (although not using it now, the pan needs a lid for the later stages of the recipe). Fry the mince in the pan until brown and separated nicely. You do NOT need to add any oil to help the frying process. Even lean mince will give off enough fat to ensure it doesn't stick to the pan.

Stage 2:

Blitz all of the vegetables, including the garlic, in a food processor. You need the pieces of vegetables to be really small, resembling the pieces of mince for size. Tip the vegetable mixure into the pan and cook through with the meat for around five minutes. If you're left with lots of vegetable residue in the food processor, add some water and "swill it out" into the pan. This helps avoid wastage. It doesn't matter if the mixture is now watery. You can increase the cooking time and cook off the liquid later. 

Stage 3:

Add the remaining ingredients: herbs, sauces, tinned tomatoes, passata etc. It doesn't matter which order you add them. Stir the whole mixture through, making sure all the meat and vegetables are coated with the tomatoes and flavourings. Put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down to a medium simmer and cook for at least an hour. You can check it every fifteen minutes or so. If you're concerned towards the end of the cooking time that your sauce is too watery, take the lid off the pan and turn the heat up a little, to reduce the sauce down.

Serve with freshly cooked pasta.

Variations

You could add fresh chilli, chilli powder and red kidney beans to this to make it into a healthy Chilli Con Carne. Add the beans towards the end of the cooking time, as they do not react well to long periods of cooking.

This recipe works perfectly well in the slow cooker. When you have fried the meat with the vegetable pieces, turn out into your slow cooker, add the herbs, tomatoes and flavourings, stir through and put the lid on. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

2 thoughts on “The Most Virtuous Bolognese Sauce Ever

  1. Jane this recipe looks great! I make a bolognese occasionally, but it’s the more traditional and less healthy kind. I think I’ll try this one next, except I’ll need to do some translating: courgette, passata, for example. Also, how much is in a tin these days? Keep up the good work, cousin!

    1. Hi Steve! A tin is usually around 400 grams I believe. Passata (just the fat free sieved tomato sauce from a jar, usually no oil or fat in it.) And courgette is zucchini, possibly? Not a cucumber 🙂 x

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