This is a quick and easy dish I designed for the contestants on Biggest Loser Australia. It only takes 15 minutes to make, so it’s the perfect meal to prepare during a busy week.
My secret to the perfect Bolognese is to start by choosing quality ingredients. I use pasture-fed beef because I love the greater depth of flavor it gives to the overall dish. This Bolognese is also great using turkey mince for those who prefer a lighter meat. I use fresh, ripe Roma tomatoes when they are in season or alternatively, you can also use good quality organic tinned Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are naturally sweeter than regular ones and they have more flesh and less juice, so they’re my favorite for tomato-based sauces.
I make vegetable spaghetti with zucchini and use that as a substitute for traditional heavy pastas. Zucchini makes the most perfect and healthy low-carb pasta and what I love about this vegetable is that it takes just one minute to cook and will absorb the flavor of any aromatics you add to the pan. You can also use other vegetables in making spaghetti such as carrots, leeks, pumpkin, sweet potatoes or a combination of all of them.
The best way to cook vegetable spaghetti is to briefly sauté them in a pan over medium heat with a little olive oil until softened, otherwise they become too watery if plunging into water. You can also add a spoonful of pesto and a generous handful of baby spinach, like I do, which enlivens the flavor and color. Finish off your Bolognese with freshly chopped parsley and a generous grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 100g (3 1/2 oz) celery, finely diced
- 300 g (10 1/2 oz) grass-fed beef mince
- 800g (28 1/4 oz) ripe roma tomatoes, chopped or 2 x 400g (14 oz) tins roma tomatoes
- 1-tablespoon tomato paste
- Sea salt to taste
- Grated Parmesan or pecorino to serve
- Fresh chopped parsley to serve
- 800g (28 1/4 oz) zucchini
- 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons pesto (See recipe below)
- 60g (2 oz) basil leaves, chopped
- 60 g (2 oz) parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons roasted walnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons parmesan, grated
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 60 ml (2 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
- Pinch sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
- Saute onion and garlic until softened in a good quality cast iron or stainless steel pan for 1 minute
- Add beef mince and cook through for 2 minutes until browned
- Add celery then tomatoes and mix through
- Cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally then add the tomato paste
- Cook until the sauce is lovely and rich. You may need to add a splash of water (or red wine) if the sauce needs it
- Season to taste with a little flaked sea salt and pepper then remove from the heat and add a few spoons of parsley
- While the bolognese is cooking prepare your pesto and zucchini noodles
TO MAKE THE PESTO
Combine pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender for 1 minute until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Alternatively, chop dry ingredients by hand using a large chef’s knife or Mezzaluna chopper then combine in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon and garlic.
TO MAKE ZUCCHINI NOODLES
- Run the zucchini along a mandolin to form nice long spaghetti strips, or alternatively use a julienne slicer
- Toss zucchini in a pan over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes with a little pesto and baby spinach
- Divide zucchini spaghetti onto serving bowls and top with Bolognese sauce, extra chopped parsley and grated Parmesan or pecorino
- Serve immediately and enjoy
NOTES + INSPIRATION: Layer bolognese sauce between roasted eggplant or fresh made spelt spelt flour crepes, then top with ricotta and parmesan before baking for 40 minutes for the most spectacular lasagne.
Vegetarians can use grated organic tempeh, extra veggies and a handful of walnuts in place of beef mince.
Teresa Cutter, founder of The Healthy Chef, is an author, nutritionist and classically trained chef. You can find more of Cutter’s tips and recipes on her website, app, eBooks and Instagram.
“My main goal at The Healthy Chef is to get people cooking and eating healthier. Eat natural foods, focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and just keep it simple.” — Teresa Cutter
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