Spaghetti Bolognese

February 11, 2017
spaghetti bolognese

Spaghetti bolognese is a family favourite and this blog, which is meant to chronicle the food we eat at home, wouldn’t be complete without it. Much requested and often made, this pasta sauce takes us from birthday dinners to the last meal you have at home before going off on another adventure. This is a rich, luscious sauce, slowly cooked and loaded with herbs, ensuring the end product is full of flavour. 

By rights spaghetti bolognese should not make its debut until winter. This is a heavy sauce that leaves you replete and ready for a lie down. Right now we are in the middle of a summer heat wave. It’s currently 36 degrees celsius and this is not the food we are craving. But there’s a catch. Claudia was off on another adventure (you can read about them here:, and that meant spaghetti bolognese had to be consumed before boarding that long haul flight. Concessions were made.

An early start meant it was simmering away by 10am – the coolest time of day, which in turn meant it was cooked and in the fridge by 1pm. With 5pm being not far off the hottest time of day, reheating one serve and cooking some pasta was doable. The other major issue was eating this heavy food when all you wanted to do was melt. Modern day living to the rescue! We rarely turn the air conditioning on during the day. It’s reserved for night time to make sure a decent night’s sleep is had by all, ready to face the heat of the next day. But this was a special occasion. With the air-conditioning on, she was a happy girl!

Everybody has their version of spaghetti bolognese. For me, it’s made with beef (sometimes half beef, half lamb), but never pork and that’s because I don’t like pork. I use a bottle of passata instead of tins of tomatoes, and I don’t include tomato paste. Despite cooking off the paste, it always seems to leave a metallic taste, so I just don’t use it. Also, it needs to cook slowly for a long time, and I like to throw in lots of herbs. If you have some red wine hanging around, by all means throw in a splash, but I usually rely just on stock (I use chicken stock, not beef but that’s a personal preference).

This recipe serves 3 – 4, but most of the time I double it to feed 6. There’s a couple of reasons: leftovers are great to use for making sloppy joes (a spongy bread roll with a hole pocked in the middle and filled with the sauce and a grating of cheese – don’t judge!). Alternatively, a double quantity means you can use the second half for the ragu component of lasagne. But that’s for another day. Enjoy!


spaghetti bolognese

Fry the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and mushroom until soft.


spaghetti bolognese

Add the beef and fry until all the meat is brown


spaghetti bolognese

Add the passata, stock and herbs, cover the pot with a lid, and leave to simmer for 2-3 hours.


spaghetti bolognese

The sauce is ready when it is thick and luscious looking and the oils seem to rise to the top.


spaghetti bolognese

Yum! Let’s eat…

spaghetti bolognese


spaghetti bolognese


Spaghetti Bolognese
Serves: 3-4
  • 500 grams beef mince
  • olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 500 ml passata
  • 250 ml stock (or a combination of red wine and stock)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper
  • lots of fresh herbs: couple of bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and basil (or other Italian inspired herbs you have on hand)
  • spaghetti and parmesan cheese to serve
  1. In a heavy based pot, heat a splash of olive oil on a medium temperature.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and mushrooms and gently fry until soft and slightly coloured.
  3. Increase the heat a little, and add the mince. Fry until all the pink colour of the mince disappears. You will need to stir the mince continuously so that it doesn't turn liquidy and stew.
  4. Lower the heat and add the passata, stock, Worcestershire sauce, herbs, and salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly. Cover with the lid.
  5. Move the pot to the smallest plate on the stove top and simmer on the lowest heat for 2-3 hours
  6. stirring occasionally.
  7. If the sauce is still too liquidy after 2.5 hours, remove the lid and increase the temperature so reduce the stock.


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