In so many ways it feels odd to even post this as a recipe because it really is super easy. And yet the results provide a meal of such complex flavour, depth of character and sheer comfort factor we’ve probably all – vegetarians aside – eaten, cooked and ordered this dish in restaurants across the world.
This is my favourite version. I’ve been cooking spag bol my whole adult life and have veered across about 137 different recipes, some from books by proper actual chefs, some from family and friends, but mostly just my own tweaks from the previous try. I kinda think I’ve nailed it for my own and my families tastes and also managed to adhere to Slimming World guidelines which makes me happy 🙂
Note: I tend to always do my sauce in a slow cooker now, mainly because I just damn well love that machine but also for time and effort saving – once the chopping is done you’re really free to crack on with whatever else your day has in store. However, it would work just as well in a big pot on the cooker top too, just brown off all the veg in a splash of olive oil before adding the mince and doing the same, then chuck in all other ingredients and simmer for anything up to 4 hours.
Serves 4 very hungry adults (or in my home 2 adults, 1 child and 2 portions for the freezer)
1 large onion
1 large leek
2 stalks celery
3 fat cloves garlic (I’m in the camp of you can never have too much garlic, feel free to adjust to taste)
500g minced beef, I use 5% fat
1 – 2 beef stock cubes
1 tin chopped tomatoes
good squeeze tomato puree
200g your choice of pasta (for my family, you use whatever quantity suits your situation)
Method (for slow cooker):
- Chop all veg and throw in slow cooker. I’m not a big fan of ‘hidden’ veg for kiddies but if necessary these ingredients can be prepped seriously finely so they kind of melt in a gorgeous sweet mush within the sauce and end up toddler friendly invisible.
2. Add minced beef, stock, tomatoes, puree, oregano, a small glass of wine, good splash of balsamic and worcestershire sauce, season, give it a quick stir mainly to break the mince up a bit and bung lid on.
3. Here’s the beauty of a slow cooker. High heat for 2 hours then switch to low for 3 – 4 hours more, however long you’ve got really. If I’m at home I generally can’t resist a quick stir occasionally but you could happily leave this alone altogether.
4. Towards the end of cooking time or on the warming stage if using a slow cooker, cook pasta according to instructions, drain and put back into the pasta saucepan. Add however much of the sauce you like and mix lightly.
5. You can adorn delightedly with oodles of freshly grated parmesan and torn basil but to be honest there’s no need. This is simplicity itself but utterly delicious.
Serves 4 very hungry people