The symphony of simple, robust flavours, the heartening warmth of the sauce, and the beautiful unison of pasta and meat: Spaghetti Bolognese is a classic dish that always manages to satiate our cravings and comfort our soul. It’s more than just a pasta dish; it’s a hearty, fulfilling meal that evokes the kind of gratification that only well-cooked comfort food can provide. A classic Bolognese sauce is a medley of ground beef, celery, carrots, onions, and a rich tomato base, perfumed with herbs, garlic, and a hint of sweetness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
I often prepare an extra-large batch to freeze, turning any busy weekday meal into an effortless endeavour. The extra sauce can be conveniently defrosted and reheated, and when served over perfectly al-dente spaghetti, it transforms into a quick yet wholesome meal.
The ingredients, though simple, each bring their unique qualities to the dish: the pasta, with its satisfying bite; the celery, carrots, and onions that form the ‘soffritto’ – the flavour backbone of the sauce; the tomato base providing the tangy richness; the ground beef adding depth and heartiness; and the ensemble of herbs that lend an aromatic freshness to the dish.
While spaghetti is traditionally used, the sauce pairs well with other types of pasta too, like tagliatelle or rigatoni. When it comes to preparation, ensure that the meat is thoroughly browned to intensify its flavour. For the vegetables, aim for a fine dice or rough mince to ensure they meld into the sauce.
Serving this dish can be as straightforward as ladling the sauce over the cooked pasta, or for an even more integrated dish, you could simmer the almost-cooked pasta in the sauce for a minute or two. Garnish with a generous sprinkle of parmesan for that final touch of savoury goodness.
Embrace the joy of preparing Spaghetti Bolognese – a dish that brings together the ease of weekday cooking with the delicious complexity of flavours that are characteristically Italian.
Basic Ingredients for Spaghetti Bolognese
Spaghetti Pasta: Serves as the base of the dish. Its slender, long-form is perfect for catching and holding onto the rich bolognese sauce.
Celery, Carrots, and Onions: Also known as the holy trinity of Italian cuisine, these vegetables form the ‘soffritto’ or base of the sauce, providing a depth of flavour.
Minced Garlic: Enhances the aroma and imparts a distinctive sharp flavour to the dish.
Ground Beef: Adds a hearty, meaty component and texture to the sauce.
Salt and Black Pepper: Basic seasonings that enhance the flavours of all other ingredients.
Strained Tomatoes and Tomato Paste: These components create a rich, tangy sauce that is integral to the bolognese.
Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley, Basil, Thyme: These herbs infuse the sauce with earthy, aromatic notes.
Parmesan Cheese: Adds a salty, umami touch, helping bind the sauce and pasta together and enhancing flavour.
- Sauté the soffritto well: Ensure the celery, carrots, and onions are well-sautéed before adding the meat, as this helps develop the flavours.
- Slow simmer: Allow the sauce to simmer slowly, which helps the flavours meld together and intensify.
- Cook the spaghetti al dente: This keeps the pasta firm and allows it to better hold onto the sauce.
- You can choose to mix the sauce into the pasta before serving or serve the sauce on top of the pasta.
- Always serve spaghetti bolognese with a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese on top.
- Consider adding a side of garlic bread or a fresh green salad to complement the meal.
- Bolognese sauce freezes well. Allow the sauce to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container or freezer bag. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Cooked spaghetti should be stored separately from the sauce in the fridge and generally consumed within 2 days for the best quality.
- 1 packet spaghetti pasta
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 500 g ground beef
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 500 g strained tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 tbsp oregano
- ½ tsp sugar
- 3 cups water
- olive oil
- 1 tbsp rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp basil, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp thyme, finely chopped
- parmesan cheese
- Starting with the Bolognese Sauce: In a medium-sized pot sauté the celery, carrots, and onions with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Once these ingredients become translucent, add in the minced garlic and fry until fragrant..
- Add the ground beef into the pot, season with salt and black pepper cook until the meat is thoroughly browned.
- Once the meat has browned, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, sugar, and water; mix and bring the mixture to a boil on high heat, then cover the pot and leave to simmer on medium, heat for about 40 minutes. Add the chopped rosemary, parsley, basil, and thyme and allow to simmer for an additional 30 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
- Preparing the Pasta: Fill a large pot with water, add a generous pinch of salt, and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, add the spaghetti and cook it to an al-dente texture according to the instructions on its package. Drain the pasta and reserve a cup of the pasta water if you are going to cook the spaghetti with the sauce.
- Serving: There are two ways to serve your spaghetti bolognese. One way is to serve the al-dente spaghetti on a plate and ladle the bolognese sauce over it. Alternatively, you can cook the spaghetti one minute less than the package instructions suggest, then combine the spaghetti with the bolognese sauce in the pot, adding a cup of the pasta water. Toss gently until the spaghetti is fully coated with the sauce.
- Finishing Touches: To serve your spaghetti bolognese, sprinkle some parmesan cheese over it for added flavor and creaminess. Enjoy!