It's remarkable how an Italian dish from Bologna in Northern Italy has become such a popular staple dinner, especially among the Mums and Dads of Ireland!
My children love Spaghetti Bolognese. And I do too, for lots of reasons: It has protein and carbs, you can sneak in those 'all important' vegetables, and everything - apart from the pasta - is all ground up so at mealtimes there isn't a peep from anyone about their absolute detest of a particular ingredient. When I make this, everyone's head is happily down eating in silence for more or less the duration of the meal. As they get older I'm sure we'll have long intelligent conversations over dinner (Italian style!) but while they're still young this 'peace and quiet' is pure and absolute dinnertime bliss.
While there must be thousands of versions of this dish, mine started out as a homemade burger recipe combined with 'real' Italian tomato sauce. I mightn't be selling it with that description but believe me this version of the popular Italian meat-based sauce is eccellente!
I hope you'll try it.
Spaghetti Bolognese (SERVES 6)
What you'll need:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot , peeled and grated
- 400-500g mince
- Salt and pepper
- Chicken stock cube
- 1 apple, peeled and grated
- A dash of Worcestershire sauce
- 200g spaghetti pasta
For the tomato sauce:
- 50ml olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
How to make it:
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the chopped onion, and carrot if using (if I have a carrot in the fridge I grate it in). Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes until the onion is soft.
At the same time start your tomato sauce in a medium sized pot. Heat the olive oil. Gently cook the garlic over a low heat until starting to brown, about 5 - 10 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and the salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
Back to the meat. Remove the onions and carrot to a separate plate. Add a dash of olive oil if the pan is too dry, brown the mince breaking it up as you cook (if omitting the carrot you can just add the mince directly to the chopped onion).
Once the mince is browned add the onion and carrot back to the pan. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes.
Next add the chicken stock cube, Worcestershire sauce and grated apple. Mix into the mince and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce to the pan and simmer everything together for 20 minutes.
Cook the spaghetti pasta while the Bolognese is simmering.
Finally blitz the Bolognese sauce in a food processor. Even though it can be cumbersome to take out the processor don't skip this stage. It combines everything so there's no squabbling!
Serve with spaghetti pasta. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the calm.