If you have kids, Spaghetti Bolognese is probably firmly lodged in your recipe repertoire along with mac & cheese and chicken nuggets. I, myself, cook it more often than I’d like to admit because I know my kids will gobble up an entire bowl without fighting and I get to cram it full with assorted vegetables. In my first book, Simple & Delicious, I have a recipe for Spaghetti Bolognese with loads of hidden veg which is just perfect for fussy eaters. Luckily, my kids are eager vegetable eaters so I don’t have to hide it too much.
With this version I wanted to keep it really simple and have just a few ingredients lending their flavours to this family staple. I started with a simple soffrito/mirepoix consisting of carrot, onion and celery which adds real depth of flavour to the finished sauce. I also browned the beef because I think that it adds real meatiness. You could of course just add the mince to the soffrito once it’s cooked but I just don’t think it does as much to the finished dish.
This bolognese recipe also works really well as chili con carne if you add some tinned beans, a few spices like cumin and coriander and a little chilli. In fact, I often serve this bolognese in bowls with some fresh chilli, sour cream and guacamole. It also works well in lasagne, quesidillas and with nachos. To make life easier, double this recipe and freeze in portions for those nights where you just can’t be bothered to stand in front of the stove for longer than 15 minutes.
- 500 g beef mince/ground beef
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 x 400g tins Italian tomatoes
- 250 ml beef stock
- salt & pepper to taste
- 500 g spaghetti/pasta of your choice
- finely grated Parmesan
Brown the beef in a large pot in batched until well browned. Remove from the pot and set aside.
In the same pot, add a splash of oil and fry the onion, carrot and celery for 10-15 minutes until soft and fragrant.
Add the garlic, bay leaf, thyme and rosemary and fry for another minute.
Add the beef back to the pot and add the tomatoes and beef stock.
Lower the heat so the sauce simmers and cover. Allow to cook for 30 minutes. If the sauce is too watery, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes of simmering so the liquid can reduce.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling salted water.
Serve the bolognese with the cooked spaghetti and a generous grating of Parmesan.