Brown paper bag bolognese

This is me caving to peer pressure.

In the week-ish since my bolognese post, I have worn multiple censures from friends and work colleagues about my recipes. Despite detailing what I thought was a simple method, many said that there were too many ingredients — and the method was too complicated.

So I am caving.

Here is a very, ridiculously easy (and low fat) recipe with only six main ingredients. It takes just over 40 minutes to make, and most of that time is in the simmering, so you can walk away from it for a few minutes at a time. I have actually made this for Xander before; now I feed him exactly what I cook for myself.

Recipe #49: Easy peasy low-fat bolognese. Serves 4-6.

Start by heating a large saucepan to medium and add about half a cup of water and a Massel stock cube. While this is heating up, finely chop a clove or two of garlic and a medium-sized onion; add this to the boiling water-stock mix. Simmer until translucent, then break in about 500g of lowย fatย mince, cooking until the mince is brown and in tiny pieces (about 10 minutes). Next, add a large tin of diced tomatoes. This is where you get to take a break: simmer the bolognese for as long as you can be bothered (at least 20 minutes please!), stirring occasionally. When you are sick of waiting, stir in a couple of generous spoons of tomato paste — enough to thicken and redden the sauce. And it’s done!

Add salt & pepper to taste, if needed. Serve with freshly-cooked pasta and lashings of freshly-shaved parmesan or pecorino.

Some tips and hints for improvement — to make me feel like I haven’t just betrayed everything foodly that I stand for:

  • You can still make this simple dish into a special one by stirring in chopped, fresh herbs (eg. parsley, basil, marjoram) once the sauce has finished cooking.
  • A swirl of good olive oil over each dish after it is plated also adds a special touch.
  • A note re Massel: I like Massel because they are vegan friendly. This may seem pointless in this recipe: it’s more a comment on stocking your pantry. I find it easier to reach for just one product no matter who I am cooking for. I recommend the cubes rather than the powder; the powder does not taste the same.

[Note to E: if you hadn’t guessed, this is the “superbasic recipe” I was going to send to you in an unmarked brown paper bag. Did I hit the mark?]



  1. Ohhhhh… thank you H! I suspected this was specially for me and was so relieved to read that 'many' too were as lazy as moi ๐Ÿ˜‰ This is so perfect to try and start with cause Cal is starting solids and I have been about to hit Absolutely Organic in Gwelup ๐Ÿ™‚


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