Spaghetti Bolognese: and you are in Italy!
Although we eat a massive variety of food back home, people seem to struggle to imagine us eating anything different than pizza or spaghetti. Yes, we love our carbs, no doubt… but I hope that with time, the more I publish, the more you get to see the delicacies we enjoy all over the boot.
This recipe is traditional, yet everyone likes to make it their own way…
I can tell my mother’s Bolognese sauce’s smell with closed eyes. Yes, I can do the same with either my grammas’ (well, only one now…) – they are all completely different, yet they all taste like home.
My Mom’s is tasty and healthy (a bit anemic my Aunt used to say… as she uses little tomato), while both my grandmothers like the richness of the sauce, almost making more of a ragout (or ragu’ in Italian) rather than a minced beef sauce.
If I close my eyes, I’m there right now… dipping a slice of bread in the sauce on my empty plate!
How to make spaghetti Bolognese the traditional way can be a bit of a sticky point; there’s who likes to use mixed meat, who uses barely any tomato, who doesn’t like the soffritto (onion, carrot, celery) to start with… so, I’ll just break the news to you now: this Bolognese sauce recipe – the one I am sharing – is traditional to where I come from in Italy, uses healthy whole ingredients, is weight-loss friendly and is easy-peasy to follow.
Here’s my traditional spaghetti Bolognese recipe… enjoy!
~~ Why not try it with this Fluffy Garlic Butter on a slice of bread? Toast it or follow the recipe within the link… yum! Oh, yum!
Let’s talk nutrition!
While tomatoes, onions, garlic and carrots are all considered low-carb vegetables (find a list of the most versatile ones on The 18 Best Low-Carb Vegetables), the ingredient I want to talk about today is beef.
Beef is referred to as a red meat, as it has a higher amount of iron than other meats, such as fish or chicken.
When selecting good quality lean beef, one can expect a protein content of about 26g every 100g of serving, as well as all nine the essential amino acids that are needed by the body for its growth and maintenance.
As proteins build muscles, the composition of the amino acids eaten is very important; while all foods contain some amino acids, different dietary sources provides different compositions of these. The ones found in beef are the ones that are the most similar to the ones found in human muscles.
This is one of the reasons eating meat protein is considered to be particularly beneficial for people recovering from injuries or surgeries, as when paired with exercise, they help build and maintain muscles.
In regards to fat, beef can be found in stores with different amounts of it; for beef to be considered lean, it needs to have between 5% and 10% of fat. While lower fat content may increase the price of the meat, higher fat content increases the calories.
Beef meat is very rich in minerals and vitamins, such as:
Vitamin B-12: it is only found in animal products and it is important for the formation of blood, as well as brain health.
Zinc: this mineral is very important for growth and maintenance of the body.
Selenium: this is an essential trace element that is mainly found in meat. It is important as it assists many bodily functions.
Other nutrients found in high quantities: Iron, Vitamin B-3 (Niacin), B-6 and Phosphorous.
Meat, furthermore, contains multiple bioactive substances and antioxidants; when these are consumed in sufficient (but not excessive) quantities, they may be beneficial to health. Some of these are:
Creatine: found in meat. This is used as an energy source for the muscles.
Taurine: This is an antioxidant amino acid that is essential for the correct functioning of the heart and muscles.
CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): this is a ruminant trans fat that may have multiple health benefits when integrated in a healthy diet.
This recipe also includes spaghetti (or any pasta shape you like, really!) so, if you’d like to know more about carbohydrates, check out Carbohydrates: What are they? How do we use them?
How to make Spaghetti Bolognese?
This recipe is very easy to follow and requires very few ingredients.
Start by sautéing and lightly browning some onion, garlic, carrots, celery, salt and black pepper. Follow by adding the beef and browning it all around.
Once the beef has browned, add some (OPTIONAL) red wine and allow it to simmer away until it evaporates.
Once the wine has evaporated, add the tomato pure and allow it to lightly fry for a couple of minutes, then add the chopped tomato and water. Mix well all of these ingredients and bring the sauce to the boil.
At this stage you can add a laurel leaf (bay leaf) if wanted and a tiny amount of white sugar if the tomatoes are acidic.
Allow the sauce to simmer away on a low flame with a lid on for at least one hour, but if you can keep it for longer even better. Remember to keep an eye on it and stir occasionally – adding water if it is evaporating too quickly.
Cook the spaghetti until al dente and mix them with the sauce before serving! Enjoy!
~~ Love spaghetti? Try this delicious Ham and Mushroom Pasta!
How many calories in Spaghetti Bolognese?
This recipe has only 439 calories when followed as it is.
The calories can be incresed easily, but also reduced; for example, one can serve the sauce with a mixture of spiralized zucchini and pasta or as a filling for jacket potatoes.
Most of the times I eat spaghetti Bolognese substituting pasta for a konjac based substitute and mainly use the Eat Water Pasta Alternatives but there are other brands out there. Ensure you allow the sauce to nicely cook in these alternatives and you will save yourself a lot of calories and carbs!
How to reheat spaghetti Bolognese?
I prefer to have the sauce ready in the fridge and quickly cook some pasta on the spot, however this can be reheated by adding a couple of tablespoons of water, mixing them well and warming them up on a gentle flame while having a lid on the pan so the steam warms up the pasta.
This may mean your pasta is overcooked by the end of it and since it is better to reheat them slowly it may be just easier to not prepare it in advance but just cook to order, however it is a great method for leftovers.
If you are using other pasta shapes, such as penne, you can mix the leftovers with some mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven until warm for an instant pasta bake.
~~ Have you tried this fan-tas-tic Tuna Pasta with Chili and Garlic?
What to serve with spaghetti Bolognese?
Spaghetti Bolognese can be served with many sides, such as a nice slice of bread with some fluffy garlic butter, however, to keep it light a side of vegetables is preferred. Try some pan cooked zucchini, or boiled green beans dressed with some garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.
For something very Italian, prepare a big sharing bowl of salad using leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, grated carrots and onions!
How long does spaghetti Bolognese last in the fridge?
This will last in the fridge for up to three days when stored in an air-tight container.
How can I bulk up Bolognese sauce?
This is my favorite question! To bulk up this sauce you can use multiple vegetables, such as mushrooms, mixed peppers or also extra tomato sauce, just to name a few.
To lighten it up even further, you can also mix the beef with some minced chicken.
How to make spaghetti Bolognese vegetarian?
To make spaghetti Bolognese vegetarian, simply swap the beef for a meat free alternative, such as Quorn, or use a mixture of lentils and vegetables instead.
~~ Looking for some more vegetarian dishes? Cook: Vegetarian for a great Italian and Indian selection!
If you are looking for an:
- Wight-Loss Friendly
- Family Friendly
- Italian Pasta
Recipe… then you are on the right page!
This is easily the BEST SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE RECIPE you will try, so how do you feel when you are the one preparing it?
The real Italian flavors will be in your plate… you’re welcome!
~~ Want to eat Italian food and are short on time? Broccoli Pasta with Garlic and Chili… job done!
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Small Carrot
- 1 Onion any colour
- 1 Celery Stick
- 10 g Garlic (1/2 oz)
- 500 g Minced Beef 5% Fat (1.1 lbs or 18 oz)
- ½ tsp Dry Parsley
- 15 g Tomato Puree (1/2 oz)
- 1 Tin Chopped Tomato in Juice (400g - 0.9 lbs - 14 oz)
- ¼ tsp sugar (Optional: Needed if tomatoes are very acidic)
- Black Pepper and Salt to Taste
- 420 g Dry Spaghetti (0.9 lbs - 15 oz)
- 100 ml Red Wine (Optional: I used Cabernet Sauvignon) 3.5 oz
- Peel the carrot and chop it in cubes of about 5mm in size; wash and slice the celery stick, the onion, and crush or mince the garlic, as preferred.
- In a large pan, which has a lid, put the olive oil and once warm add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery; mix well and keep on a low-medium flame for a couple of minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste, mix again and put the lid on the pan. Allow the soffritto (or sofrito) to cook for about 5 minutes on a low flame, or until the onions and celery turn golden, the carrots start to soften and the rawness of the garlic has gone.
- Once this happens, put the flame to medium-high and, without the lid start adding the minced beef; try and break it down as much as possible, so you’ll be able to brown it properly. Once all the meat is added, mix the beef well and keep on stirring gently until all of it has browned.
- OPTIONAL: Once all the minced beef has browned, add the red wine and mix well; keeping the sauce on a medium-low flame, allow the wine to evaporate.
- Once the wine has evaporated (or all the minced beef has browned if skipping that step), add the tomato puree and mix well. Allow the tomato puree to gently fry for a couple of minutes before proceeding to the next step.
- At this point add the tin of chopped tomato plus 400ml of water, bring to the boil, then bring the flame down to low.
- OPTIONAL: Add the sugar, stir well once more, and put the lid back on the pan. This step is necessary only if the tomato sauce or puree are acidic.
- Ideally, you will be simmering this for at least one hour on a low flame, during which time you will occasionally stir to ensure the sauce doesn’t dry up or stick (depending on how low your low-flame is).
- Remove the lid from the saucepan and allow to continue simmering to bring to the desired consistency. At this stage you can also adjust the levels of salt and add some chopped herbs, if wanted. I, personally, add a bit of parsley sometimes.
- Once you are about 20 minutes away from the sauce being ready, put a large pan of water to boil and once the water boils, add the salt and spaghetti and mix well straight away.
- Cook the spaghetti for as long as it says on the package (this will mainly depend on the size of the spaghetti – more of this in notes).
- Once the spaghetti are al dente, drain them quickly, without over-draining them, and add them to the saucepot.
- Mix well the spaghetti and the sauce, divide into six plates and enjoy!