My Spaghetti Bolognaise

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I think all families have their own special way of making spaghetti bolognaise. A recipe that everyone can knock up without even thinking about it, just because they’ve seen it being made 1000 times before, by various members of the family. Some might involve tomato ketchup, chorizo or even baked beans. This recipe is how my family make a bolognaise, and it’s the best ever, obviously.

When I was little, spaghetti bolognaise was definitely my dad’s domain and we ate it at least once a week. I still don’t know what he put in it (and he’ll never tell, my dad is the ultimate “I swear, I’ve added nothing” liar), but it was the spiciest food I’ve ever tasted. Seriously, I remember one of us crying once, it was so hot. Until I was about 16, I honestly thought authentic Italian food had to be about as hot as your average Vindaloo. Obviously, now when I make this myself, I don’t add the mystery ingredient that made dad’s bolognaise taste like fire, but it’s still pretty much the same apart from that.

When I cook this for myself, I like to use the absolute cheapest, value, probably-horse-meat mince I can find; the one I used in the pictures is from Farm Foods. This low-quality mince means that it breaks down while cooking, making it all soft and mushy and perfect for eating it out of a bowl on these colder evenings. This is also a great way to get rid of any vegetables that you have hanging around; my recipe lists carrots, celery, pepper and courgette, but that’s just what I happened to have in the fridge.

Spaghetti Bolognaise (Serves 3-4)

• 250g frozen minced beef
• 1 large onion, chopped finely
• 1 clove garlic (I use frozen Dorot garlic, so much easier!)
• 2 carrots, cut into small pieces
• 2 sticks of celery, halved and chopped finely
• 1 red or yellow pepper, cut into small pieces
• 1 small courgette, halved and chopped finely
• 1 tinned of chopped tomatoes
• Big squeeze of tomato puree
• 1 beef stock cube
• 2 tablespoons of gravy granules
• Sprinkle of Italian seasoning
• Worcestershire Sauce, to taste
• Salt and pepper
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1. Over a medium heat, cook the onion, garlic, carrots and Italian seasoning until the onions are softened and starting to colour. Add the mince and cook until browned.
2. Pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes and about half the tin of water. Add the celery, pepper and courgette and stir.
3. Add the gravy granules, the tomato puree and sprinkle over the beef stock cube. Add the salt and pepper and Worcestershire Sauce, to taste.
4. Bring to the boil and let it cook away for a few minutes. Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch. If it starts to taste a bit salty at this point, stir in a teaspoon of white sugar.
5. Turn down to a low heat and ignore it until you’re hungry, stirring occasionally. When you are ready to eat, stir in a spoonful of pasta water to loosen up the bolognaise a bit and serve.

I usually eat this with wholemeal pasta (it was hard, but I’ve FINALLY weaned myself off white pasta and bread), but it’s just as good over a jacket potato. Or, if you’re feeling really lazy, simply out a bowl, using a mini pitta as an edible spoon. Just don’t forget to add lots of cheese and pepper.

A few points:

• This is really, really cheap to make, I think less than £2.00 per serving for meat and vegetables (Especially if you use cheap mince like me!)
• About 210 calories per serving, before any pasta or cheese
• If you have loads of veg to use up, it is definitely worth making lots of this and freezing in portions. Bolognaise tastes even better when it’s been frozen or chilled for a few days

Now enjoy this cold weather, get under a blanket and enjoy this lazy dinner!

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