This is my version of Spaghetti Bolognese, and one I never tire of making or eating. It is one of my “go to” recipes that I can make in automatic mode, ahead of time and know that it will evoke murmurs of satisfaction around the dinner table.  My recipe has evolved over the years, with tweaking here and there depending on the season, pantry and fridge staples available and my palate. It is popular with even the pickiest of eaters as it is robust in flavour, textured and plentiful.

As my family has grown my original “double batch” has become enough for our family dinner, with a smaller amount of leftovers for the next day. I spoon these into Thermoses for school lunches, extend by stirring through gnocchi or macaroni pasta with grated parmesan or pesto for a speedy weekend meal, or even spread onto toast in the morning for a protein rich breakfast. 

A great sauce starts with quality ingredients, so buy the best mince you can find and afford. I usually cook with premium beef mince, but also mix it up for variety with a combination of beef/pork or pork/veal. Mince needs to have the correct balance of fresh, lean meat along with enough fat content for moisture and flavour. Too little fat and your sauce will feel and taste like soggy sawdust. Too much fat and your belly and arteries will suffer.

Vegetables are essential not only for nutrients, but also incredible flavour. If your little ones recoil whenever they see something colourful on their plate, grate or blitz the vegetables so they are incognito. If you prefer a chunkier texture, simply dice your vegetables into bite sized pieces instead.

You know how some dishes taste even better when they are made ahead? Well, this is one of those! The sauce can be kept covered in the fridge (below 4 degrees centigrade) for up to 4 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

If you prefer to make a smaller batch, simply halve each of the ingredients below.  The cooking time will remain the same.

Spaghetti Bolognese to serve 12 people

Olive oil and butter

2 large brown or white onions

4 cloves of garlic

3-4 large carrots

2-3 small zucchini

2 long sticks of celery

2 x handfuls of button or Swiss Brown mushrooms

2 kg beef mince

4 teaspoons dried Italian herbs

1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 heaped teaspoons sea salt

2 heaped teaspoons sugar

Ground pepper to taste

2 x 400 gram tins of chopped or crushed tomatoes

2 x 500 gram bottles or jars of tomato passata or pasta sauce

1 litre salt reduced chicken stock or 1 litre water and 2 chicken stock cubes

Wash, peel and chop the veggies into either bite sized or tiny pieces, or  use a food processor to grate or blitz into your desired size. If you don’t have a food processor then you will need to do this by hand. The sauce turns out just as delicious, except preparation will take much longer. I’m all for being efficient and couldn’t do without the magnificent food prep abilities of both my Magimix food processor and Thermomix.

Next…Sauté for 15 minutes over a medium heat in a large pot, with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of butter.

Remove from the pot; add more olive oil to coat the base and then add the beef mince. Increase the heat to medium-high so that the mince can brown evenly. It needs to be a dark brown colour with no raw meat showing. Use a wooden spoon to break up the lumps of mince. It is best to brown the meat in two lots to prevent it from stewing.

Add back the vegetable mixture and ALL the remaining ingredients. Stir thoroughly, bring briefly to the boil and then either place in a preheated fan forced oven at 150 degrees Celsius for two hours with the lid ON, or simmer over a low heat on the stove for 1.5 hours with the lid ON. Stir the stove top sauce a couple of times to check it is not sticking. There is no need to stir the oven cooked sauce.

When ready, serve with spaghetti and freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese.

I also add a dollop of ricotta to my children’s bowls for extra calcium.