Spaghetti Bolognaise

I often make a bolognaise sauce, which I use in many recipes, including pancakes and lasagne. You can opt for a vegetarian bolognaise sauce and replace the beef mince with lentils, which lends the sauce a more nutty flavour and is also high in protein and low in carbs.  This recipe includes spaghetti, which is of course high in carbs, but I absolutely love pasta and the fresh Mediterranean tastes associated with Italian food.

My bolognaise recipe has been developed over years- it started based on my mom’s recipe, but has grown to include friends’ recipes based on what their mothers or grans used to do.  This is my fail safe recipe and is my boyfriend’s favourite type of food. The trick for me lies in how long I cook the bolognaise sauce (the longer the better!), and the addition of red wine. This is a rich, meaty sauce that is filled with fresh flavours and can be served with pasta or rice, or used for lasagne or cannelloni.

This recipe gives four large portions:

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

400 grams lean beef mince

50 grams diced, smoked bacon

1 carrot, finely grated

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

1 can cherry tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup wine

3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh, finely chopped basil

1 tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot over moderate heat.  Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add the bacon and brown.  Now add the mince and brown.  Add the tomato paste and carrot and mix well. Add the canned tomato, wine, water and oregano.  Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes to an hour or until most of the fluid has reduced and thickened. Add all of the fresh herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for another 5 minutes and remove from the heat.

Prepare pasta of your choice according to the instructions and serve with the bolognaise sauce and a fresh green salad on the side. The spaghetti bolognaise featured here was also served with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Bolognaise filled pancakes topped with a creamy white sauce

The heat has finally broken in Cape Town, and made way for rolling mist from the sea and cloudy, cooler weather. It really is a great change, and I look forward to getting out and about in my veggie garden today. With the cooler weather (and on my beau’s insistence, with dessert in mind), I decided on pancakes filled with a basil bolognaise sauce, drizzled with a creamy white sauce and topped with white Gouda and parmesan for dinner. The end result-creamy, crispy and filling! This recipe gives 4 large portions (2 pancakes per portion).

This pancake recipe is also my gran’s recipe.  I remember calling her just after I went to varsity, short on money, and in dire need of some cinnamony reassurance.  This is the recipe she gave me, and I still have the same hand-written note pinned on my fridge today. This recipe gives 20 thin pancakes and 13-15 thick and thin pancakes (If used for filling, I make thick pancakes). I made 8 thick pancakes for the savoury filling and the rest I used for a cinnamon filling.

Pancakes:

2 1/2 cups water

2 eggs

30 ml white spirit vinegar

63 ml cooking or olive oil

2 cups flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 ml salt

Whisk all the wet ingredients together, before sifting in the dry ingredients.  Whisk everything together until there are no more lumps present.  Let the batter rest for 30 minutes before frying the pancakes in a non stick pan lightly coated with oil. Again, if I want to fill and bake the pancakes afterwards, I make thicker pancakes, but if I want to cover them with cinnamon sugar I make thin pancakes.  The pancake is ready to flip once all the sides have curled inward (about 5-8 minutes after pouring the batter). Flip over once, and allow to brown for another 2 minutes before removing from the pan. Set aside. If you are making cinnamon pancakes, cover them with sugar and cinnamon after removing from the pan. For the savoury pancakes, do not add any cinnamon or sugar. Reduce the crispiness by placing them on top of each other as the come out of the pan; this will help with the rolling later. Set aside.

Bolognaise sauce:

200-250 grams lean mince

1 brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tin tomato paste (70 grams)

1 can whole peeled tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (I use cherry)

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

2-3 sprigs parsley, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup water

1 carrot, very finely grated

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pot, and sauté the garlic and onions for 5-6 minutes .  Add the cumin and coriander and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the mince and brown for aproximately 8-10 minutes, before adding the tomato paste. Stir in, then add the carrot, canned tomato and water. Allow to simmer over a low temp for 30-40 minutes or until most of the fluid has reduced. Add the fresh herbs, stir through and simmer for another 5-10 minutes before removing it form the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

White sauce:

2-3 tablespoons butter

2 heaped tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cup milk

salt to taste

Melt the butter in a small pot over low heat. Add the flour, and stir in. I use a whisk to ensure a smooth roux (flour butter mix). Slowly stir in the milk whilst whisking, and allow to thicken for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is to thick, add another dash of milk.  I made a thick sauce for this recipe, because I did not want to cover the pancakes completely. Once thickened, set aside.

Assembly of pancakes:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Starting from the top of your pile of pancakes, add two to three tablespoons of the bolognaise sauce along the length of the pancake towards the edge. Lightly roll the pancake to ensure that the filling is in the middle. Place in a prepared baking dish. Do the same for the rest of the pancakes. Once all the pancakes are filled, and in the baking dish, drizzle with white sauce and cover with mozzarella or a hard white cheese such as Gouda and parmesan ( I used a combination of the latter). Place in the oven and bake until golden brown.

I served this with a small green salad. Although this recipe is labour intensive, it is delicious and absolutely worth the effort if you have time.  A perfect slow-food meal for the weekend if it is cold and rainy outside.

Bolognaise, feta and rocket pizza

Who does not like pizza?  This is one of my favourite weekend recipes- the bolognaise sauce can simmer and reduce until just right, whilst the home-made pizza dough rise leisurely in the window sill. I aim to use Italian flavours for the bolognaise  just because both pizza and bolognaise are of Italian origin. This also gives me the opportunity to nip back some of my herb plants which encourages new growth.

This is definitely not a low-fat recipe, but, as mentioned in earlier posts, I reduce the amount of sugar and preservatives found in bottled tomato sauce and frozen pizza basis, by rather making my own.  I know precisely what goes into everything that the pizza is made up of, and can make whole wheat or gluten-free pizza basis by replacing the cake flour that I use in this recipe with either whole-wheat or gluten-free flour, which is readily available at health shops these days. You can also of course not add cheese at the end and create a lactose-free pizza, but I honestly don’t know what a pizza without cheese is. This recipe gives approximately three pizzas.

For the base:

1 1/2 cup flour

150 ml luke warm water

5 grams (1/2 sachet) instant yeast

10 ml sugar

pinch salt

45 ml olive oil

Add your flour and salt to a mixing bowl (no need to sift), and make a well in the middle of the flour. Add the olive oil. In a separate measuring jug, add the yeast and sugar and 150 ml lukewarm water.  Mix and leave for 5 minutes until frothy. Add to the flour, and start kneading. The more you knead the softer the dough will become. Knead for 5-10 minutes until your dough feels silky and everything has come together. You should be able to press the dough lightly with your finger and see it return to shape slightly. Rub with a drop or two olive oil (which prevents it to crack and dry when rising) and cover with a damp cloth. Place somewhere warm and sunny and allow to rise for 1 hour. Roll out on a surface that is slightly covered with flour and shape accordingly.

For the bolognaise sauce:

200 gram lean mince

1 brown onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped

1 tin tomato paste

1 can whole peeled tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a dash of olive oil over moderate heat in a pan. Brown the onion and garlic, and add the mince. Brown the mince, then add the tomato paste and canned tomato. I rinse my cans (for recycling) with 40-50 ml water, and add that to the sauce as well. Allow to simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until reduced. Add the parsley, basil, and oregano, mix well and set aside to cool.

For the pizza:

Prepared pizza base (above)

Prepared bolognaise sauce (above)

1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced

5-6 button mushrooms, thinly sliced

2-3 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1 wheel feta, crumbled

handful fresh shredded rocket

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. There is no need for a tomato base as it is already included in the bolognaise sauce. To assemble the pizza I first cover the base with the bolognaise sauce, followed by the peppers and mushrooms. Lastly I cover everything in cheese and feta, and bake in the oven until golden and bubbling. The pizza crust should be golden and crisp. Once the pizza is out of the oven, add shredded rocket to serve. Bon apetit!