The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 3 January 2006

Rob's & Jean's Pasghetti Bolognese

Rob was the one who taught me how to make pasghetti bolognese (that's Rob's unique way of saying spaghetti) years ago with a jar of ready-made pasta sauce, mincemeat, carrots, capsicum, peas and spaghetti. It's one of the easiest meals to prepare because you can cook in bulk, then freeze some for later. Admittedly, I don't cook it very often because the vegetable content isn't as much as I'd like to have in a main meal, but I have adapted the recipe by adding more volume of vegetables as an attempt to make up for that. Now, I don't pretend that this is authentic and claim that this is the way Italians cook bolognese, but it sure is a great bolognese sauce to serve with pasta. It does take awhile preparing all the veges (if you have as much as we do) but it's all good investment of our time because we cook a lot and all the prep needed the next time we have bolognese is just cook the pasghetti pasta and reheat the bolognese sauce.

For this particular cook-up, I've made up my own pasta sauce by using an 810g can of crushed tomatoes as base. You can use any veges or meat you want - you have total free reign over what you cook and eat so feel free to experiment. I've even seen Jamie Oliver (of The Naked Chef fame) using huge hunks of beef meat, stewed it in the bolognese sauce for a long time until the meat falls apart into shreds.

Also, according to Rob, my definition of 'chopped' is actually 'finely chopped' (and my definition of 'finely chopped' is actually 'minced'). I blame this on my mum who insisted that the onions I chopped for her weren't finely chopped enough (regardless of how long I slaved over it). Thank goodness this is a bolognese, and it's nice to have chunky ingredients, so do them as chunky as you like :).

I heard that bolognese is best eaten the day after it's cooked to allow the full flavour of the sauce to develop and diffuse throughout the whole dish. Kinda like curries I suppose.


Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Chilli flakes to taste
3 medium carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 medium capsicum, diced
1kg minced meat (using 90% lean pork)
1 medium head of broccoli, cut up into smaller pieces
frozen peas
7 or 8 mushrooms, sliced
3 tomatoes, diced
1x810g can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup of water
Herbs (basil and parsley goes really well)
1 or 2 tsp of sugar (explanation provided below)
Salt and pepper to taste


You make a soffritto by heating a little oil and sautéing/stirfrying/lightly-frying (there are way too many complicated terms for cooking, methinks - no wonder some people get intimidated from cooking!) the chopped onions, minced garlic, diced carrots and diced celery on medium heat until soft-ish (5-10mins?). I add the chilli at this early stage of the cooking so that it gets roasted and release the flavour into the soffritto (same goes for any spices).

Add the mincemeat, capsicum and broccoli and cook until the meat is cooked. The lean mince I use is fairly soft and doesn't clump as much as normal mince so if necessary, break any large meat clumps apart.

Then add the chopped and crushed tomatoes, peas and water and stir well. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 5-10minutes.

Add the mushrooms and the sugar (to take away the acidic edge of the tomatoes), and season well with salt, pepper and loads of herbs.

Give the bolognese a good stir, and voila! the bolognese sauce is ready! All is needed is to cook the pasghetti pasta to serve with the sauce.

The sauce is great in toasted sandwiches as well. Yum :9

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