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the best spaghetti bolognese recipe traditional weight-loss

The Best Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe

Easy, Traditional and Weight-Loss Friendly: welcome to Italy!
5 from 23 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 portions
Calories 439 kcal


  • 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!



This healthy spaghetti recipe has quite a few ‘very Italian’ notes I’d like to share with you.
Starting from the base: many people (my brother springs to mind) do not like onions (or carrots and celery), so this base can be substituted with a vegetable stock cube. It is not the same - I’ll say it out straight away, but at least some stock will be adding the needed background flavor. If this is the route you’re going down (even if you do not have those ingredients and you are just simplifying it), after the oil, just add the garlic (if wanted), brown the meat, and then add the stock cube, then proceed as per recipe.
Beef Bolognese is the most famous Bolognese, but to add some different flavors, the minced beef can be mixed 50/50 with pork mince, or a sausage can be opened up and added to the mix. This will obviously increase the fat (and calories) of the recipe, but I think it is worth trying it, to taste the difference, perhaps for a special occasion!
The wine is an optional, absolutely not mandatory, but something most Italians do; I normally use Cabernet Sauvignon because it is the one I prefer, however Merlot, Sangiovese or Chianti are other excellent choices for cooking meat. 
I like to use chopped tomato – probably because I like that little bite the tomato has – or because it is lower in calories than passata, but if wanted this can be swapped with it. Passata is higher in calories because it has a ‘higher tomato component’, but it will make it creamier… so try it out both ways and choose your winner!
Should you instead have (or find in the store) some very red and mature tomatoes, you can also chop those and use them instead of pre-packed ones. 
The minimum this sauce should be simmered for to have the real, authentic flavor is one hour. I cook it for two hours on a very low flame and in that case I add 600ml of water, instead of 400ml; this ensures I have enough 'liquid' part for the sauce to gently simmer away. 
In regards to the dry parsley … as usual, if you have it, use fresh. Sometimes (because I’m rebelling to Italian tradition I guess?) I add other herbs for a change of flavor, like basil or rosemary. Try with caution, enjoy in full… the rosemary gives it that nice roast flavor… well, let me know what you brave to try!
We’re at the carbs: I like to use the very traditional spaghetti number 5, although, like clothing, also these sizes depend on the brand. The number represents the thickness of the spaghetti, with lower numbers (like the famous thin number three – also called spaghettini) being thinner and the higher (like number eight, known as spaghettoni) being thicker. I like the number 5 for this recipe and I like to use very Italian brands, such as Barilla, but if you pop by an Italian shop, you’ll find many different ones, so be brave… give a different brand (or size) a go!
Do not boil the pasta with oil! This is a big NO-NO! After draining the pasta, the oil will remain and it will stop the sauce from sticking to the it… something you really want to avoid!
Another NO-NO is… chopping the spaghetti in half! Why, oh why! If the spaghetti were meant to be short, that’s how they would be sold! There’s an easy way to ‘fit’ the spaghetti in the pan without breaking them; once the water is boiling, take the spaghetti in your hand ‘twist them’ like sticks, and put them in the center of the pan. Once this is done, they should be spreading evenly around the pan, with the bottom half in the water and the top half out. The bottom half will quickly soften and from about 30 seconds to one minute, you should be able to fit the entire spaghetti inside the water, without breaking them. 
Another very traditional addition to this recipe is the laurel leaf (bay leaf); this adds a very floral (thyme/rosemary like flavor) taste and it can be added after the tomatoes and water. 
Following up on my last note… don’t be scared of getting sloppy! Spaghetti Bolognese is love, when you are eating them you are a little bit Italian, so spread a little Parmesan on them and allow your nose to be whipped as you enjoy this fabulous dish!


Calories: 439kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 23gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 156mgPotassium: 599mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1795IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 3mg
Keyword beef bolognese, healthy spaghetti, spaghetti, traditional spaghetti bolognese recipe, weight loss recipe
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