A Basic Bolognese

It's essential to have a good, basic bolognese sauce in your repertoire as a cook. From a young age I've eaten it with spaghetti or in lasagne, mopping the meaty sauce up with hunks of warm, crusty bread. Carb fest alert!

With a father who lived in Italy for several years we've always had a bit of Italian food in our house. He makes a brilliant vegetable lasagne and is the one we go to for culinary advice regarding the eating habits of Italians (yes, we do discuss these things).

Bolognese sauce originated in Bologna, Italy.  Every family has their own recipe and so there are many different variations! The sauce typically consists of minced meat and tomatoes, slow cooked to bring out the delicious flavour and juices. Play around with the ingredients according to your taste - you could use all-beef (as I have done), or a half-beef, half-pork mixture of meat. Add chopped celery and mushrooms for some more nutrients or keep it simple with some gently sautéed onions and herbes de provence.

The beauty of this sauce is that it is so simple - after the initial frying, you just leave all the ingredients in a pan to simmer on a low heat for a while until you're ready to eat. It tastes fantastic too - even using tinned tomatoes.

Fry off the meat and onion.

Add tomatoes and herbs.

And simmer for a while! (Okay, so it's not going to win any prizes for looks…)

Basic Bolognese Sauce
500g minced beef (or pork, or a mixture of the two)
1 red onion
1 large clove of garlic
1 tsp herbes de provence
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
A little red wine or water
Oil for frying

1. Finely chop the onion and sweat in a pan with a little oil until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to fry. Add the meat (in bits, if you like, to prevent it from producing too much moisture) and fry until browned.

2.  Add in the herbs, tomato purée and chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle in the sugar (to counteract the bitter tomatoes) and season well. If you're feeling particularly indulgent add a splash of red wine to bring out the meaty flavour.

3. Put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for at least half an hour until reduced slightly. The longer it takes to cook, the more tender and more concentrated it will be. Serve with pasta or use in appropriate recipe. 


  1. Looks great! I see that you like Italian cooking. :)

    1. Thanks Lisa! Definitely; and I'd have to say that I like eating it even more. ;) x


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