I tend to be a big fan of batch cooking and always try to have some kind of base tomato or Bolognese sauce in the freezer. One pack of mice will easily do four portions for me and then you can use that base to make lots of different meals; whether it is a traditional Bolognese on a bed of courgetti, lasagna, add some different beans, lentils and a few extra spices and you have a great chili… the list goes on. On this particular day I arrived home late from a grueling day of interviews in London. As usual the only thing I had eaten all day was my smoothie in the morning, and a bliss-ball and banana that I had popped into my handbag – adamant that I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of having to just pop into a well known coffee shop for a quick snack. So arrived home got my little proportioned pack out of the freezer and started rummaging through my vegetable supply for added crunch, vitamins and flavour. So easy but absolutely hit the spot for a little comfort food and much needed nutrients.
· 1 onion
· 3 cloves garlic
· 2 sticks of celery (the inside left over bit is the best for this!)
· 1 carrot
· organic tomato puree
· 1 carton of plum or cherry tomatoes
· 1 250g packet of organic lean mince
· 2 homemade stick cubes or 1 shop bought
· 2 bay leaves
· 2 tsp dried oregano
· salt & pepper to taste
1. Dice your onions finely and crush your garlic, using the back of a cook’s knife to make into a puree with a little salt. Add to a heavy bottomed dish (big Le Creuset fan!) with a little avocado oil and sweat off until beautifully soft and translucent.
Note: The key to any well cooked sauce for me is slow cooked onions and garlic so really time your time here. Any burnt onion is just going to give you a bitter taint to the whole sauce.
2. Next add your celery and carrots, cover with a lid and leave on a low heat for a good ten minutes.
3. When you return, remove the lid and turn up the heat adding your mince to the pan, using a wooden spoon to separate and the tendrils of meat ensuring they brown evenly.
4. When the meat looks sealed add a good 2 tbsp of tomato puree and mix this through.
5. Next add your tomatoes – I try to stay away from tins where possible but there are so many tomatoes you can find in tetra packs or jars these days.
6. Stir in your stock cubes, whole bay leaves (remember to remove later) salt, pepper and oregano.
7. If you are not sensitive to dairy I have traditional placed the skin to a block of parmesan in here – gives a wonderful added infusion to the flavour but like the bay leaves you must remember to remove later.
8. If cooking in the Aga, I place in the baking oven and leave for a good couple of hours.
9. Either way I would suggest either popping in to the oven on a low heat or keep on the hob simmering for a good hour.
Now you have a delicious, tangy, rich Bolognese that you can serve and eat straight away or freeze for a base of a meal at a later date. As mentioned before this particular dish I simply stirred through some broad beans, chopped fine beans and green and yellow zucchini and left to cook for 10 minutes until vegetables has softened slightly.