Whilst at risk of reinventing the wheel, I’ve decided to include a recipe for this classic family favourite. As usual, I have included a few variations, just to demonstrate its versatility as well as showing you ways to boost its nutritional value. Healthy Bolognese can be vegetarian, gluten free or grain free; for breakfast or baked – the result is many meals in one. This is a simple meal where you can truly make every mouthful count and have your efforts rewarded with happy, healthy children!
If you’ve fallen into the habit of using store bought sauces to add to you mince, then this recipe is for YOU!! It takes no more than a few minutes to make your own sauce. It also tastes so much better and you simply cannot compare the nutrition derived from a homemade sauce compared to the sugar and additive laden pasta sauces at the supermarket.
Because this dish is loved by children, it is necessary to take the opportunity to add lots of health-giving vegetables in the mix. The sauce lends itself to grating and finely chopping (or food processing) vegetables so they ‘disappear’ behind the flavour and texture of the sauce. Perfect for fussy, ‘veggie phobic’ children.
Try to vary the types of protein you use. Have you ever tried this classic with chicken or turkey mince? It’s really good and adds variety! The herbs are all great for supporting a healthy digestive system and the tomatoes are an amazing source of the protective antioxidant, lycopene.
Take a look at the variations (below the main recipe) for suggestions to alter the recipe to suit your specific dietary requirements.
Healthy Bolognese (with a few twists)
- 1 tbsp olive oil -extra virgin
- 2 onions -diced
- 2 cloves garlic -finely chopped or crushed
- 500 g beef mince -or turkey or chicken mince (see below for vegetarian)
- 1 carrot -grated
- 1 zucchini -grated
- 1 stem celery -finely chopped
- 1 cup mushrooms -sliced
- 5-6 large vine ripened tomatoes -diced on a plate to keep the juice
- OR 700 grams tomato passata or puree
- 1 tbsp dried rosemary -or 2 tablespoons of fresh
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- Bunch fresh basil leaves -roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste -for a richer tomato flavour if using fresh tomatoes
- You can also alter the vegetables you use although I find these are the ones that 'hide' best of all. If you are without any of the vegetables above it will still work, just leave them out.
- In a large pan or a pot with a lid, sauté onions and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil over a low to medium heat, for a couple of minutes until they start to soften, but not brown.
- Add the mince (or lentils) and herbs and cook until it just starts to brown (about 5 minutes) then add the vegetables, tomatoes (and tomato paste if using).
- Place the lid ajar the pan. Simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, minimum 30 minutes. The longer you can let it simmer, the richer the sauce will become.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Serve with al dente spaghetti (or one of the variations below).
- I like to serve this with a simple green salad.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Can also be frozen.
Gluten-freeUse gluten free pasta (I love rice and quinoa spaghetti), or zucchini ribbons.
Grain-free or PaleoServe with zucchini ribbons or stuffed in a baked potato.
Vegetarian and veganSubstitute mince with a can of brown lentils (rinsed and drained). Half vegetarian Substitute half the mince for brown lentils (rinsed and drained). Adding lentils to leftover sauce is a simple way to make it o further.
BreakfastLeftover Bolognese is a delicious breakfast. Serve it on whole grain toast or as a side with eggs.
Baked BolognesePlace any leftovers into a greased dish or bowl. Make an indent in the top and crack an egg or two into the hollow. Top with cheese and pepitas and bake until cooked the way you like it.
TipBolognese is a great dish to pre-prepare and it also freezes really well. I often freeze leftovers in little glass pyrex containers and will mix a few together to make one meal. If time is an issue, double the above recipe and freeze in ready to go batches.
How do you eat your Bolognese? Can you add any interesting variations? Please comment or ask questions below.