Spag Bol

I suspect a lot of us have our own version of this classic.  Whilst I don’t think it holds up as a true Italian sauce for pasta, it is delicious and has found a very welcome home here.  Few things beat a good spoonful of this richly flavoured and satisfying sauce atop a pile of spaghetti, or whatever pasta you have. This is certainly one of the first things I remember cooking in a shared house after leaving home and haven’t really stopped making it since although I have certainly refined the recipe since.  The older readers of these pages won’t, I suspect, need a recipe, but students and less experienced cooks may find it useful so here we go.

This is an excellent recipe to make quite a lot of and then divide up and freeze some smaller amounts – you will never regret having a pot of bolognese in the freezer for times when you can’t be bothered to cook or are short of food or funds.  This sauce is entirely untroubled by being frozen but do remember you can only re-freeze this if you have changed the state of the meat ie if you have defrosted raw mince you should not refreeze that raw.  If however you defrost raw mince then make this Bolognese, you can freeze the now cooked mince.

I am always keen to slip in a little extra veg where I can and some finely chopped carrot along with the onion are a great way of adding to your 5 a day and using up carrots should they be languishing in the fridge.  A handful of red lentils will melt away, become almost indistinguishable, pad out the sauce and up your fibre intake.  Both are a win win but neither are in any way essential, just tips if you have either hanging around or you need to stretch supper.


This is quite a large amount of sauce using 500g of minced beef.  This can easily be halved or make the whole amount, eat some this evening for supper and freeze the rest. If you haven’t got any tomato puree then a squirt of tomato ketchup will be fine but don’t go mad as it is quite sweet.  Probably the most important tip is long, slow cooking.

I tablespoon oil

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

500g minced beef

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 tins peeled and/or chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1 bay leaf (if you have one but entirely optional)

Warm the oil in a large pan that you have a lid for and cook the onion with a pinch of salt slowly until really soft, probably around 20 minutes, with the odd stir.  If you are using carrot too then put this in the pot with the onion.  Add the mince and cook gently until it has all changed from pink to brown at which point you can add the garlic and oregano. Give it a good stir and leave to cook for a few minutes before adding the tomato puree (or ketchup), the tinned tomatoes, salt and the bay leaf if you have one.  Once this has all come up to a gentle simmer put the lid on and leave to tick away for at least an hour but two would be better.  You could also put this into a low oven rather than leave it on the hob.  Give it a stir a couple of times during the cooking time to check nothing is catching on the bottom of the pan.  Serve with pasta* and grated cheese if you want.  Make sure any sauce you are freezing is absolutely cold before you put it into the freezer.  When you come to use it, defrost and then make sure it is heated properly ie, really hot, before you eat it.  This amount would serve 8 people.

*When you cook pasta always keep a mugful of the starchy water as this is ideal for thinning down any sauce, helping it emulsify well and coating the pasta effectively.



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