When I am not feeling 100% or am particularly busy, I always have a few ‘go to’ dishes which for me are the ultimate comfort foods. The most frequented dish is probably Marmite on toast closely followed by cottage pie (but only if it is my Mom’s recipe!) and pasta Bolognese.
Pasta Bolognese was the first dish I learnt how to cook from scratch. At University, I was very proud that I could cook such a dish without the aid of jars of sauce. I still continue to love this dish although the recipe has changed somewhat over the years. The bonus is that this recipe mainly involves store cupboard ingredients so its a dish that can be thrown together at any time.
You may ask why this recipe is for pasta Bolognese rather than the traditional spaghetti Bolognese? The answer is that I am a very clumsy person and unfortunately, I have inherited the ability to drop food down one’s front during every meal from my father; not a very attractive quality for a lady so pasta is a much easier and less messy option than spaghetti!!
Memoirs of an Amateur Cook’s Pasta Bolognese
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
One medium onion, diced
500g extra lean minced beef
Beef stock cube
100ml red wine
100g mushrooms, diced
One red pepper, de-seeded and diced
400g can chopped tomatoes
Carton of passata
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 star anise
Handful of fresh basil, torn
Parmesan, grated (optional)
Spray a medium-sized saucepan and heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and reduce the heat to low. Cook for five minutes until starting to brown.
Next, increase the heat and add the minced beef. Brown for a minute or two before crumbling over the stock cube.
Once the mince is nicely brown, add the red wine. Allow the red wine bubble away and cook off for a few minutes.
Add the mushrooms, red pepper and cook for a few minutes. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, star anise and most of the basil leaves to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
- During this time, cook the pasta in a separate pan according to the packet instructions. Drain and toss in a little olive oil if using to ensure that the pasta does not stick together.
- By now, the Bolognese sauce should have reduced and be nice and thick. Check your seasoning.
- To serve, place the pasta on a plate, top with the Bolognese sauce, grating some parmesan and scattering the remaining basil leaves over the top.
I quite often substitute beef mince for veggie mince as it can be used straight from frozen and therefore requires no pre planning! The veggie mince also tastes fab and you wouldn’t think it was a meat-free dish.
This recipe is fairly healthy as it is however, it can be made even better for you by omitting the wine, using fry light at all times instead of olive oil and measuring the amount of parmesan used.
A very versatile dish that is highly recommend. It certainly is a comfort food staple in our house and a recipe I return to again and again especially when I feel the need to do some cooking to take my mind off things and eat something healthy!