What is life without a good Bolognese? Here’s one that won’t bust your diet. – 296 cal / Syn Free / 6 Smart Points
What we call spagbol is actually known as ragù in Italy. There are many recipes and while the Chamber of Commerce for Bologna holds the official recipe, every family has its own take. This is one of those family recipes, adapted to be diet friendly.
In Italy the shape of pasta is chosen to match the type of sauce or dish it’s used with. For example penne (small tubes) or fusilli (spirals) are used for runny sauces as the pasta shape means it’ll carry more sauce into your mouth. Ragù is only ever eaten with long flat pastas such as linguine or tagliatelle, never with long round pasta like spaghetti. So let’s stop calling it spagbol and call it linbol, or tagbol. Or maybe just call it Ragù alla Bolognese (ragù for short) like the Italians.
That said, shall I tell you a secret? I once ran out of linguine and had several open packets of various shapes pasta to finish. I had my Ragù with some penne, some fusilli AND some spaghetti thrown in to boot. It tasted just fine. Just don’t tell your Italian friends!
This is a slow cook recipe and should simmer for 3 – 3 1/2 hours to fully develop the flavours. It can be stored and heated up later, so this is a great recipe to make on a weekend to have later in the week when you need a quick meal. If you’re pressed for time, instead of simmering with the lid on at the end you can cook on a higher heat without the pan lid on. This will speed up the reduction process to about 20-30 minutes. It won’t be quite as good, but it will still beat anything out of a jar hands down for both flavour and calories!
This recipe uses some UK names. Hover over the translation icon or use the Translations for Cooking Terms, Ingredients and Measures page for US equivalents.
|500 g||Beef mince|
|250 g||Pork mince|
|75 g||Lean back bacon|
|From the pantry|
|2 tins||Chopped tomatoes|
|2 tsp||Marmite yeast extract|
|1 tbsp||Soy sauce|
|Low cal. spray|
|Salt and pepper|
This is an updated version of my earlier recipe, which is now Syn Free on Slimming World and only 6 Smart Points on Weight Watchers! For the calorie counters among you, it’s less than 300 calories!
Method – brief
- Finely chop the onion, rosemary and garlic. Soften in a large pot over medium-low heat.
- Slice the bacon into chunks and add to the pot together with the pork and beef. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat is browned.
- Add the vegetables, tomatoes, Marmite and soy sauce.
- Cover and simmer for 3-4 hours until the desired consistency has been reached.
Method – detail
Preparing the ingredients
- Finely chop the onion.
- Mince the rosemary and garlic.
- Trim any visible fat off the bacon. Slice the bacon into small chunks of about 2-3cm (1 inch).
- Finely chop the celery.
- Chop the carrot into bite-sized chunks.
- Slice the mushrooms.
Pictures in a slideshow at the bottom.
- Spray a large lidded cooking pot (lid off for now) with cooking spray and set over a medium-low heat.
- Add the rosemary, garlic and onion. Cook until fragrant and the onion starts to go translucent, approx. 3-5 minutes.
- Add the bacon, pork and beef, increase the heat slightly and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the remaining vegetables – celery, onion, carrot and mushrooms.
- Add the tomatoes, soy sauce and Marmite and stir to mix all the ingredients.
- Cover the pan with the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3-4 hours until the sauce has reached the desired consistency.
Tip: If the sauce goes to dry, add a little water. When you’re ready to serve, if the sauce is still too runny, take the lid off and increase the heat stirring frequently, to reduce the sauce further.
- Serve your Bolognese with a flat pasta like linguine or tagliatelle – or with spaghetti for a spagbol, just don’t tell anyone!
Like traditional Ragù, this recipe makes a very meaty sauce. If you want it more like typical spagbol, create a simple tomato sauce when serving and add it to the Bolognese. For example finely chop some garlic, rosemary and shallots, soften in a pan and add some tomato passata . Heat through and serve.
The Marmite and soy sauce are added because they will boost the meaty flavour of the other ingredients. A full explanation can be found in J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s amazing book The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, look for “umami bombs”.