Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A simple supper of glory.

Some dishes are just right. They sometimes hold childhood memories, they sometimes epitomise comfort, sometimes a dish is simply what you want.

Spaghetti bolognese was all of those things and more for me last night. It seemed that I really needed the comfort of the buttery pasta and the ray of sunshine that comes from the tangy and fresh, yet deeply savoury sauce.

I'm sure that spaghetti bolognese was a childhood favourite of yours too, and I'm sure that you've made it before. According to the daily mail, 48% of us eat spag bol at least once a month. The reason that I'm posting this recipe is that it's perhaps a tiny bit different; I like to emphasise the umami flavour of the tomatoes with a splash of balsamic vinegar, and of course I bulk the meat out with plenty of vegetables.

If this is a staple dinner in your home, but you usually make it out of a jar, I hope to convert you to home cooking with this recipe tonight. Not only is it cheaper, but the home cooked bolognese sauce is much less fattening and miles tastier. I hope that you agree.

Spaghetti Bolognese.

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Any leftover veg that you have lurking around, (I used a leek, some mushrooms and a few red lentils)
1 pkt beef mince (Sainsbury's always seem to have a 2 for £5 offer on)
1 tin tomatoes, (I use peeled tomatoes because they're normally cheaper)
1/2 a stock cube
A glug of red wine
A splash of balsamic vinegar

Warm a good glug of olive oil up in a nice deep frying pan and slowly fry your onions and your garlic until they soften. If you're using a leek like me, chuck that in now too.

Once everything is starting to look lovely and soft, put your packet of mince in there. Break it up and get it nice and brown. Chop up your veg and pop them in the pan. Give it all a few minutes and then add your tin of tomatoes. If you've gone for peeled ones, just break them up as the sauce cooks.

Give it all a stir to incorporate, add your wine and your vinegar. (If you have to only use one, I would go for the vinegar.) Pop about a cupful of water in there too, and the crushed up stock cube. Give it all a stir and allow to simmer and reduce...

After about half an hour, or perhaps a little longer, it will start to look beautiful and rich and it will smell fantastic. Give it a quick turn of salt and pepper and your dinner's ready! Serve the sauce on a bed of spaghetti, as is standard. I like to melt a little knob of butter on top mine. That's the way it was served to me on holiday in Italy once and it was lovely.

Of course, we all know what the perfect accompaniment to this dinner is...

Garlic bread?!
(Watch this video if you don't get that reference.)

A small baguette
About 4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp soft butter
Salt and pepper

Chop the garlic up very small and beat it into the butter, then season the mixture well. Slice your baguette into a sort of concertina: make cuts half an inch apart nearly to the bottom of the bread but not quite, so that it stays together. 

Shove a knifeful of the garlic butter paste between each slice of the baguette. Wrap the bread in tinfoil and bake it in the oven on high for about half an hour. It will be golden, crunchy and glistening. You will never buy ready made garlic bread again.

Doesn't that just look gorgeous? Garlic bread from a packet costs £1.50. A small baguette costs 40p. The other ingredients would probably be in your kitchen anyway.
My spag bol costs around £3.58 to make and it fed us for two nights. Yes please.

Seriously, would you say no to that dinner? No, you wouldn't. Nor would Mr Meat.


  1. Nonononono - I cannot accept this without fresh basil! I'm sorry! At least you've got the red wine though, I made a bol tonight and it was just rubbish without it.

    Going to have to try that balsamic idea. I do love a bit of umami.

  2. I ordered some basil on the Sainsbury's delivery but it didn't arrive in time for this tea! I'm sorry...please forgive me! This is supposed to be frugal though and fresh herbs are quite expensive...
    Thanks for reading!