Sunday 2 February 2014

The best Spaghetti Bolognese ever.

I'm sure if you ever cook at all, you've cooked Spaghetti Bolognese before. But sometimes basic recipes can actually be a bit underwhelming, don't you think? I've lost count of how many tasteless mac'n'cheeses I've had, for instance. But my version is super rich and super tasty. And bonus - super healthy! If you have kids, it's a really great dish to sneak some vegetables into their diets. It's absolutely full of veg, to be honest, , but don't hold that against it - they're what makes it so thick and full of flavour. Plus, it makes an enormous amount, and actually tastes even better reheated. It's batch cooking heaven!

The only thing to be aware of is that this takes absolutely ages to cook. A good couple of hours, at least. The good thing is, once you've chopped all your veg, you can pretty much just dump it all in a big pan and leave it to do its thing. It's not quite as low maintenance as a slow cooker recipe, but it's not a dish that needs a lot of attention. It's worth the time though, because all the yummy things in the sauce reduce and thicken and make it super rich and intense and wonderful.

This serves 8 generous portions. You could probably even stretch it to 10, to be honest. The only 'diet' substitutions I've made are not using oil (you honestly don't need it if you are using a non-stick pan) and using extra-lean mince and slightly smaller pasta portions than you may be used to. If you want a full breakdown of the calories and WW points in this dish, click here.

Batch cooking 4eva!

Sarah's Spaghetti Bolognese
750g Extra Lean Beef Mince (5% fat)
1 Stock Cube (Veg, Beef or Chicken) made with 200ml hot water
2 cartons Passata
1 can chopped Tomatoes
1 jar black olives (optional)
175ml (a glass) red wine
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 large Onions, chopped
4 small Carrots, grated
2 Peppers, chopped
250g mushrooms, chopped
4 sticks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped
2 tsp smoked Paprika
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp artificial sweetener
Pinch of oregano, rosemary, basil
1/2 tsp chilli
Salt & Pepper to taste
Serves 8 / 3 Weight Watchers SmartPoints per portion not including pasta

That's a lot of vegetables!

1 - Boil the spaghetti according to the package instructions. This will probably be done way before the bolognese is, so you may want to do this last.
2 - Chop all your vegetables before you start cooking. This takes ages, and if you let the mince cook while you are doing it, it will probably burn. So have it ready.
3 - I recommend using a wok for this dish, due to the size, but a large saucepan would be okay too. Add the mince and cook over a high heat. Don’t stir immediately, as you want the meat to really brown on the base, so give it a few moments – then turn to sear and brown on all sides. You may want to use oil here - I just used a couple of spritzes of FryLight and a little water to stop it sticking.
4 - When the mince is looking fairly done, drain the liquid out of the pan - any excess water and fat, basically.
5 - Add the red wine and garlic. Adding them now means maximum absorption into the mince, so you'll really taste that flavour. Yum. Your kitchen will already smell amazing at this stage, because red wine, meat and garlic smells like heaven.

6 - Here's the complicated bit - throw in all your vegetables. Yep, all of them. And I lied, that was really pretty easy. Grated carrot may seem weird, but it adds sweetness and richness and also extra bulk to the mince.
7 - Add the passata, chopped tomatoes and stock cube in water. Stir as well as you can - the pan should be really full - and add a bit of salt and pepper and your seasoning, including the balsamic vinegar and sweetener.
8 - Pop the lid on and cook on a medium heat for 30 minute to enable to vegetables to soften and everything to start mingling and going awesome.
9 - After 30 mins, take the lid off. It should look like this:

10 - Give the sauce a taste to decide what seasoning to add. If it tastes too tomatoey, add a bit of sugar/sweetener. If it tastes too sweet, add some balsamic vinegar. If it just needs a little somethingsomething, add some paprika. If it needs salt... well, hopefully that one is obvious. If you're using olives, chuck them in here.
11 - Stir everything up and then leave for 15-20 minutes on a high heat with the lid off to bubble away and reduce down. Keep an eye on it, because if it reduces too much, it will burn. But you should have a good 10 minutes before you have to worry. It'll start like this:

And when it's all thickened, end up more like this:

12 - And you're done! Set the table for a feast (I'm of the school that says you need a fork and a spoon for spaghetti, no knife!), dish your Spag Bol into pasta bowls ( love these pretty blue ones from Urbanara - much nicer than my boring white ones in the picture) and dig in!
13 - If you're feeling extra decadent, add a sprinkling of parmesan on top. Go on. I won't tell.



  1. I love trying to perfect my spag bol! I always add soy sauce and smoked bacon, although the latter obviously isn't that healthly. This version sounds great, I need to get into the routine of batch cooking. I might use wholemeal spaghetti though but usually i'd rather just have white spaghetti but less of it!

    Beth // SANS SOUCI

  2. Loving your new blog design :)
    Spag bol is such a classic, I love how you can pimp it to your liking! And I swear it tastes better when frozen then reheated.

  3. Sarah please send me some!

  4. SUCH HUGE OLIVES! This looks amazing Sarah, I'll have to try your recipe... am on the search for the perfect bolog, not quite got mine right yet!

    Sarah xx

  5. Wow, this looks ridiculously delicious. I love spaghetti bolognese with lots of veggies in!

    x Michelle |

  6. You just made me soooo hungry!
    Great recipem thanks for sharing! :)

    Secret little Stars


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