Spag Bol o’clock!

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This is a firm favourite in our house.  We usually make extra and once I re-add the mince, I put some bolognese into another pot for the grown-ups and add some white wine in place of the grape juice.

Makes about 4-6 kiddie portions.

The what:

2tsp olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

200g mince meat (I like to use half pork. half beef)

1 small carrot (about 65g), finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

200g chopped tomatoes
Fresh pump tomatoes are great if you can find flavoursome ones (you might have to actually go to Italy to for these!) or tinned are absolutely fine too. If you do use fresh tomatoes you may need to add a little more grape juice so the Bolognese isn’t too dry.

1 tsp tomato puree

1 garlic clove, chopped

25ml grape juice

1 bay leaf

1/2 tsp dried oregano

A handful of basil leaves, chopped

a little parmesan cheese, grated, to sprinkle on top (optional)

a little black pepper to season (optional)

about 25g dry pasta per portion.  Cooked pasta doesn’t freeze very well so if you are freezing the Bolognese, it’s probably best to cook the pasta portions as you need them.

Tip:

An easy way to chop the basil is to roll a few leaves together and then chop.

The how:

Prepare the vegetables and basil leaves.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan, add the meat and brown. Then remove the meat and rest on a plate.  Add another drizzle (about 1 tsp) of olive oil to the pan and cook the onions, carrots, celery and garlic, stirring regularly until the onions are soft and translucent, but not brown (about 3/4 minutes).

Next re-add the mince and all the other ingredients save for the Parmesan and cook on a low heat for 20-30 minutes.

When the Bolognese is nearly done, boil the kettle and pour the boiling water into a pot for the pasta. Add the pasta, bring back to the boil and then simmer with the lid off.  Fresh pasta takes about 3 minutes, but dried can take 15-20 minutes.  Check individual packaging for instructions.

You can use traditional spaghetti if you don’t mind the mess or your children are older.  I gave Lentil spaghetti recently and tried to teach him to suck a piece.  Not very good table manners I know, but it was very funny!  Our wet wipes were really put to the test in the clean up operation.

Alternatively, use some pasta that is a bit more manageable for little hands and tiny spoons and forks. I usually use macaroni or orecchiette.   Conchigliette, anellini or stelline are also good for little ones.

Once the Bolognese is done, remove the bay leaf and season with some black pepper (optional). Then serve with the pasta and sprinkle some Parmesan on top.  You can then refrigerate or freeze the remaining Bolognese.

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