This ultra-easy spaghetti bolognese recipe is 100% authentic thanks to my mamma in law’s tips (grazie Marisa!). It’s also less rich and thick than the heavier Westernised versions you might have bought in the past.
You see the real Italian way of making spaghetti sauce is this: heavy on the meat but easy on the tomatoes. In short, it’s all about the flesh!
‘Spag bol’ – as it’s called in England – is also a healthy feast: the succulent beef provides a protein fix, the rest of the sauce is packed with vitamins (and lycopene – good for guys), and of course there’s the carb-friendly swirling spaghetti (or linguine works too – above).
And finally… after you’ve made this spaghetti bolognese recipe once, you’ll have the skills needed to tackle your first meat lasagna – as their tomato sauces are very similar.
500g/17.5oz minced beef
1 x 395g/14oz tin of plum tomatoes
1 large glass of full-bodied red wine
1 medium onion (roughly chopped)
1 stick of celery (washed & roughly chopped)
1 medium carrot (peeled & roughly chopped)
2 teaspoons of tomato paste/purée
6-8 washed, torn basil leaves
400g/14oz spaghetti (100g/3.5oz per person)
Salt & pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large pans/skillets (for sauce and pasta)
Food mixer/blender (not essential)
Around an hour
Step 1 – Prepare the onion and carrot by washing, peeling and chopping them (including getting rid of the carrot’s ends). Roughly chop the celery too.
Step 2 –Mix these in your food blender for just a few quick seconds. If you don’t have a mixer, chop them some more – as finely as you can.
Step 3 – Cover the pan with olive oil, and throw in 2 full tablespoons of this 3-veg mixture.
Place this pan on a medium heat, cook and stir it for 3-4 minutes (until the veg starts to soften and brown).
Note: You should have some veg mixture left over. Wrap and freeze this for your next Bolognese!
Step 4 – Pour in a quarter of the wine and leave it for a minute or so (to evaporate some of the alcohol).
Step 5 – Add the mincemeat and break it with a spoon. Throw in half a handful of salt and a little pepper (as you like).
Cook and stir, on a medium heat, for 15 mins (to start the beef cooking).
If the sauce is dry at any point, add another quarter glass of wine (apply this rule throughout this recipe). If you don’t have wine, a little water works.
Step 6 – Add the tomato paste, basil leaves (washed and torn) and your chopped plum tomatoes (but not the liquid from the tin).
Cook it all on a low heat for a further 30 mins, stirring every 3-5 minutes.
Step 7 – 10 minutes before the sauce’s time is up, boil a kettle and check your spaghetti’s cooking time (see the packet).
Fill your second pan with the boiling water (adding a handful or two of salt) and boil the spaghetti, timing it so that it’s roughly ready when the sauce’s time is up.
When both are done, drain the spaghetti and divide it into your bowls.
You can add a little oil to stop the strands sticking if you like, then serve the sauce in the centre on top. Garnish with 2 or 3 full basil leaves.
Done! ‘Molto bene’ – very fine!