A different kind of bolognaise

Authentic bolognese needs quality ingredients and time. That’s it. Conversely, the quintessentially British “spag bol” can end up being a kitchen frenzy resembling anything from meat and gravy to all the sauces in the cupboard added to mince, onions and tomatoes. So which side of the fence do I sit on?

If I’m honest, I can’t help but love the simple and original Italian bolognese. The richness of the sauce combined with perfectly cooked tagiatelle, parmigiano reggiano and cracked black pepper…amazing! It’s truly one of those ultimate flavour combinations.

Where this recipe comes into it’s own is in the balance of the extra ingredients, which at no point overpower the bolognese. Instead they add brilliant depth of flavour; the nuttyness from the aduki beans, freshness from the spinach and a clean heat from the chilli flakes. I say clean because at no point is the bolognese sauce masked like it would be with say, chilli powder.

Food blogger Sophie’s Scran gave me inspiration for this recipe, if not the recipe itself! If you don’t follow Sophie on Instagram already, then you’re in for a right treat!

So, this may not get many votes for being authentic Italian, but it definitely brings a brilliant new twist on a classic. It’s also worth mentioning that the chicken stock is something I’ve started using over wine; the richness it creates is absolutely incredible!

  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 100g lean beef mince
  • salt and pepper
  • 25ml milk
  • 100ml chicken stock or white wine
  • 1tbsp tomato paste
  • 200g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 50g aduki beans
  • 1/2tsp chilli flakes
  • A good handuful of spinach
  • 75g dried spaghetti
  • 30g parmesan
  1. Put the pot on a low to medium heat and add the olive oil and onions. I like to use a low heat so that the onions don't colour too much; it keeps them wonderfully sweet! Cook for about 10 minutes, adding a splash of water if to prevent too much colouration
  2. Add the mince, season and turn up the heat. Try not to break the mince up too much as it's nice to keep some big chunks. Cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. When the mince has browned add the milk. Once evaporated, add the chicken stock. And once that has reduced add the tomato puree. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes to the pot and cook for about 10 minutes. This will allow the plumb tomatoes to soften enough to break them up with a spoon. Again, try and keep some big chunks to vary the texture.
  5. Finally add the aduki beans and chili flakes, stir and transfer to a slow cooker. Cook on high for at least 1 hour, 3 if you can manage it!
  6. Cook the pasta as per the instructions and once cooked, add to the boloegnese pot without draining - just pick up with tongues and drag in - you know the score.
  7. Final step is to stir in the spinach, this will wilt down in less than a minute with the heat. Give it a final taste test, adjust the seasoning if needed and plate up with grated parmesan.
  8. Drizzled with olive oil and cracked black pepper, this is such a different plate of food to a normal Bolognese despite the slight variations.