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Bolognese with Hidden Veg

1 May


I am 29-years-old and this is the first time I have ever cooked bolognese. Mince has always grossed me out. I never had it when I was little – it just wasn’t a staple in our house – which meant if someone’s mum announced we were having bolognese I would end up quite happy with a bowl of plain pasta in front of me instead.

But look at me now! I have grown as a person, I am wandering new pastures, staring straight into the unknown… And I liked it. I made this because the nine-year-old loves bolognese and I have watched him eat it countless times and order it in restaurants. And it was totally worth it: “This is the best bolognese I have ever eaten!” Awww. “I usually hate bolognese and never eat it.”


Anyway. This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe but I ‘hid’ some extra veg in it because that’s what passive aggressive adults do in 2018 instead of shouting at the table about starving children. It makes a HUGE amount so make sure you have room in the freezer. We had linguine with ours rather than spaghetti because I find the latter slimy and horrid. I have no idea what you mean by ‘picky eater’.

  • 2 aubergines
  • 3 red peppers
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 rosemary sprigs finely chopped
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • 500g lean beef mince
  • Beef stock cube
  • 400ml boiling water
  • Tin of chopped tomators
  • Tomato purée
  • Red wine vinegar
  • 3-4 bay leaves, I used the dry ones as the boxes seem to breed in the cupboard

Unless you have a huge amount of patience or enough knife skills that you wouldn’t be reading this anyway, use a food processor to finely chop the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Finely slice the rosemary and the bacon with a sharp knife.

Add a little oil to a large pan on a low heat and chuck everything in. Soften it up and then raise the heat slightly to start it turning golden. Add the mince and whack up the heat. Keep stirring and cook until the meat is all browned and all the liquid has cooked away.

In go the tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato purée, the same of red wine vinegar, bay leaves, the stock cube, and the boiling water. Season well with salt and pepper, stir everything in and bring to the boil before reducing the heat. Simmer for about an hour giving it a stir now and then.

While your sauce is bubbling away prick the aubergines with a knife and put them and the red peppers on a tray lined with tinfoil. Pop them in the oven at 200°c/gas mark 6 for around 40 minutes and then leave to one side to cool. Once you can handle them peel the peppers and remove the seeds and scoop the flesh out of the aubergines. Pop them in a blender or food processor until smoothish. I used the NutriBullet because otherwise it only gets used for frozen margaritas.

Once the sauce has reduced and thickened add in your blended vegetables. Keep the lid off and cook for around 15 minutes until it’s a consistency you like, adding more water if it looks too dry.

Stir through pasta and eat with loads of Parmesan. The wine was grown-ups only.


There is no nice way to photograph mince.

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