Over the years I’ve come across a wide range of Bolognese recipes, from the sublime to the rediculous. In my student days the emphasis was on pushing nutricious volume from cheap ingredients. A few years ago I developed a much more opulant recipe, with a higher proportion of top quality meat and a depth of richness from good red wine. This season I’ve gone about as far away from that approach as you could imagine.
If you’re suffering from a glut of courgettes or tomatoes as the summer draws to a close, try this variation on a very traditional theme. More of a ‘peasant’ dish, this bolognese uses a huge proportion of vegetables, cooked down over a relatively long period of time to develop a rich sauce. This is very different to your standard spag bol sauce, but don’t be put off – it tastes fantastic and it uses up all of your large courgettes in the process!
You’ll notice another ingredient which may take you by surprise – an old Parmesan rind. This is used a lot in Italian cookery – never be tempted to through these away! They add a wonderful depth to soups, stews and casseroles. They keep in the fridge for a long time – just through them in. They’ll hold together in the pan, so don’t forget to fish them out before serving.
Serves 8, freezes well!
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 450g good quality finely Minced Beef
- 3 medium Onions, chopped
- 5 fat cloves of Garlic, crushed & chopped
- 1 handful of fresh Oregano, Marjoram, & Thyme or 1 tsp dried Mixed Herbs
- 1 kg Courgette, peeled & diced
- 1 kg ripe Tomatoes, chopped
- 4 Peppers, deseeded & chopped
- 5 Chard stems, finely chopped (alternatively 5 sticks of celery)
- 1 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 good Quality Beef Stock cubes (use Knorr Stock Pot) or 4 tsp Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder
- the rind from an old block of Parmesan
- Heat the oil in a large pan and fry off the mince on a high heat
- Turn down the temperature a little and add the onion and sweat for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic and herbs
- Stir in the courgettes, tomatoes, chard and peppers and bring to the boil
- Add the stock, sugar, vinegar and Parmesan rind.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook gently for 1-2 hours until the sauce has reduced. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking
- Adjust seasoning (add lots more fresh black pepper) and serve with pasta and freshly grated Parmesan