I’ve been naughty this week. I had a few too many sandwiches at a personal development day. I’ve been buying lunch. I may or may not have been averaging a latte a day. After this blowout, I decided to get back to basics with a big trip to the farmers markets and a big batch of Mushroom Bolognaise and Zoodles. The weather on the Gold Coast is still super warm but this bolognaise is perfect nutritionally rich comfort food for any season, hence its inclusion in my Winter Warmers series.
To ‘healthify’ this recipe I’ve replaced high salt, high sugar store bought pasta sauce with homemade tomato sauce and replaced packet pasta with zoodles. My homemade tomato sauce allows you to pack in heaps of veges which after a quick blitz in the food processor blend down to make a lovely flavorsome sauce. The zoodles beat packet pasta hands down due their easy & quick prep and nutritional value (for more info see http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/zucchini-lowcarb-spaghetti-substitute-1411.html & http://www.inspiralized.com/2014/02/26/spaghetti-squash-versus-zucchini-pasta-a-healthy-friendly-comparison/). All of these recipes can be made as stand alones but they work beautifully together. I suggest making the tomato sauce a few days in advance, have it with some zoodles for dinner or serve as a soup with fresh bread. The Bolognese can be made without the mushrooms but they do add a lovely depth of flavor, a dose of B12 vitamin and an extra serve of vegetables. Finally, zoodles can be swapped with spaghetti squash but they do hold up better in the thick Bolognese sauce.
So what are you waiting for? My Mushroom Bolognese with Zoodles is quick to prepare and full of hidden extra veges (thus extra nutrition) that won’t scare picky eaters. Ditch the store bought sauce and packet pasta and give this Winter Warmer a go!
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Makes approx. 4 cups
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of grated or finely chopped vegetables (I used 2 carrots, ½ zucchini, 1 stick of celery, 4 button mushrooms, ½ capsicum)
- 800g can of diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. ‘Italian herbs’
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. stevia or to taste
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium-hot high. When oil is hot sauté onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent.
- Add vegetables and sauté until they soften.
- Add diced tomatoes and ½ cup water and season with herbs, chili, stevia and salt & pepper to taste.
- Bring sauce to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for at least 20mins*.
- Remove sauce and cool slightly before blitzing in a blender/food processor/stick mixer until smooth and vegetables are no longer visible.
- Storage: The tomato sauce will keep for up to a week in the fridge in an airtight container. Any excess sauce can be frozen and reheated when required. If using to make Mushroom Bolognese, remove from freezer and defrost in the fridge a day before you want to cook Bolognese.
- The longer you simmer the sauce the more the flavor will develop.
- The herbs and seasonings you put into this sauce are totally flexible. Fresh herbs would be best but lets face it they’re not always on hand. The chili adds a nice kick for winter evenings but is not essential either.
- Sweetener, however, is not optional as the acidity in the tomatoes needs to be balanced with sweetness. I’ve used stevia but honey also works well.
- My biggest tip would be to taste, taste and taste again then adjust your seasoning accordingly to create a sauce that is uniquely tailored to suit your palate.
Makes 4-5 serves
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 500g lean beef mince
- 4 medium mushrooms, roughly chopped (any type will do, mine were part of a ‘mystery bag’ from the markets)
- 2 cups homemade tomato sauce
- ½ cup red wine
- Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent.
- Add the mince & mushrooms and cook, breaking up mince with a wooden spoon for 6-8mins until browned.
- Add homemade tomato sauce, ½ cup red wine and ½ cup water. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for at least 20mins*.
- The longer you simmer the Bolognese the more flavor will develop; don’t forget to add extra water to keep it from getting too thick.
- The mushrooms ad a lovely depth of flavor to this Bolognese but can be omitted if you don’t like them.
- I prefer to serve this with zoodles but you can also use regular pasta or spaghetti squash (Google it!).
- The alcohol in the red wine will cook off however, if you still don’t want to use it as you’re serving it to children etc. feel free to leave it out.
Zoodles with a Grater
- 1 medium zucchini per person
- Wash or peel the zucchini. Remove the top and tail of the zucchini.
- Grate the long side of the zucchini to create zoodles.
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add zoodles and a pinch of salt and cook for 3-5minutes for al dente zoodles.
- Drain zoodles in a colander and serve with Mushroom Bolognese.
- You don’t have to cook zoodles, they are just as delicious raw.
- There is more than one way to make zoodles, for some other ideas check out this link http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Zucchini-Noodles.
- Top With Cinnamon has some really funky step-by-step instructions on how to make zoodles, complete with gifs! Check out her ‘Lazy Girl’s Zucchini Spaghetti with Peas, Crème Fraîche and Pesto’ recipe here http://www.topwithcinnamon.com/2013/06/lazy-girls-zucchini-spaghetti-no-fancy-tools-required-with-peas-creme-fraiche-and-pesto.html.