Many families will have their preferred bolognese sauce and I am a big fan of adding lots of vegetables to mine, but I do it in a sneaky way. So sneaky that my husband, who cannot stand mushrooms or courgettes, doesn’t mind me jam-packing them into my bolognese as even he admits he can’t taste whatever he finds so offensive normally!
I find the addition of lots of finely minced vegetables (I do mine in a food processor) makes a better sauce than one simply using tomato and onion. I have used red wine, but you could use white. I used dried oregano but a little rosemary would also work well (I actually used an oil that had been infused with rosemary). Basil added at the end of cooking would also make a good addition.
And a note on the chicken livers; this is optional but I’d urge you to give it a go – it makes a richer, more flavourful sauce. It may be that you just don’t mention they’re in there, much like my mum used to when we were growing up!
- Olive oil
- 2 celery sticks
- 2 red onions
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots
- 1 courgette
- 1 red pepper
- 4 fat cloves of garlic
- 250g chestnut mushrooms
- 500g lean beef mince
- 200g chicken livers
- 1kg passata
- 1 glass red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (gluten-free if required)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp caster sugar
Step 1: Begin by finely chopping all of your vegetables (I used a food processor).
Step 2: Heat some oil in a large pan (about 2 tbsp), on a medium heat. Add the celery, onion and carrot and soften for about eight to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 3: Next add the red pepper, courgette and mushrooms along with the garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 4: Remove the softened vegetables and set to one side.
Step 5: Add some more olive oil to the pan (about 1 tbsp) and then add the beef mince, and cook until browned, about five or 10 minutes, then add your chicken livers (if using) and stir now and again for a couple of minutes.
Step 6: Reintroduce your vegetables along with the passata, herbs, bay leaves, wine, Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat and cover with a lid and allow to cook for 45 minutes.
Step 7: Now season to taste and check if it needs a little caster sugar; a teaspoon should be enough.
Serve with pasta or you could use this as the meat layer of a lasagne.