With this Simple Bolognaise Sauce in your arsenal, a nutritious dinner is never far away. Whip up a double batch on the weekend, and freeze it into meal sized portions for speedy mid-week meals.
Back in my student days, I lived on bolognaise. I would make a large batch almost every week, which would cover dinner for the next few nights. This probably goes a long way towards explaining why I am now not really a huge fan of leftovers.
My tried and true, top secret bolognaise recipe in those days involved some beef mince, a jar of the leading brand of pasta sauce and a tub of dried Parmesan. Highly technical (not) and probably not very nutritious. I’ve moved on from those heady days of convenience, and now make this simple bolognaise sauce from scratch. These days my bolognaise is packed full of vegetables, and involves just a little more work than opening a jar.
I cannot pretend that this recipe is something that can be whipped up after a gruelling day at work. The sauce is at its best when allowed to bubble away on the stove for a few hours, allowing the meat to soften and the flavours to meld together. Which makes it perfect for weekend cooking. I like to put a double batch on the stove in the morning, and allow it to blip away slowly whilst I
do the washing put my feet up.
Make a large batch on the weekend though, and speedy mid-week dinners will be yours. The sauce will keep happily in the fridge for a few days, improving in flavour, or can be readily frozen in meal sized batches for up to three months.
My favourite use for the sauce is to simply cook some spaghetti, then stir the warmed sauce through the drained pasta. Dinner in minutes. Bolognaise pairs well with gnocchi for a rib-sticking meal on a cold night, or turn the sauce into an easy pie filling. Just add puff pastry.
And then there is lasagna. Spread a layer of bolognaise sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish, and cover the sauce with sheets of fresh pasta. Spread bechamel sauce over the pasta, then add another layer of bolognaise sauce, and another layer of pasta. Continue building up the layers until the casserole dish is full, finishing with a layer of bechamel. Scatter grated fresh mozzarella and Parmesan over the bechamel, then either freeze the assembled lasagna or bake at 200C (180C fan forced) until golden and bubbling. Serve with a simple green salad on the side.
Whatever you choose to do with the bolognaise sauce, it is a very handy recipe to have in your arsenal. And whilst it does make great leftovers, can I recommend that you don’t live on it for the whole week. I really don’t want you to get tired of it.
Kitchen Basics: A Simple Bolognaise Sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 large carrot finely diced
- 2 stalks celery finely diced
- 200 g mushrooms finely diced
- 500 g beef mince
- 250 ml red wine
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 750 ml tomato sauce passata
- 1 Tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt & pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
- Add the onion to the saucepan, and fry for five minutes, or until the onion softens.
- Add the celery and carrot, and continue to cook for a further five minutes, or until the vegetables soften.
- Stir through the garlic, and cook for a further minute.
- Add the mince to the pot, breaking up any large lumps. Continue to cook for about four minutes, or until the mince has started to brown.
- Add the remainder of the ingredients, and season well with salt and pepper.
- Bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer.
- Allow the sauce to simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced and thickened.
- Use as desired.
I have made this bolognaise with beef mince, and also a mix of pork and veal. Both are equally good.
P.S. Don’t forget that my freezer friendly Simple Bechamel (White) Sauce is the perfect partner for bolognaise.