Experts Series: Paula’s Healthy Spaghetti Bolognese

PaulaPaula is one of my favorite people in the whole world. She was my host mum when I lived in New Zealand. And since that first day when I stumbled into her house, travel worn and exhausted and she cooked a big baked chicken, we’ve been buddies. Now she’s more like my big sister or cool aunt. Her family has become part of mine.

Every evening in New Zealand after the children went to bed, we would watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. We watched almost the entire series. And nothing bonds two people like witty banter from Lorelai and Rory.

We also share a love of cooking and I’m thrilled that Paula is going to share her expertise with all of us!

Paula is a nutritionist and before that, she was a food scientist. She’s adept at stretching her grocery budget while still using fresh ingredients. Her spaghetti Bolognese is especially amazing because she includes tons of vegetables into her mince (ground beef), to make it flavorful, healthy and dollar stretching.

Her son, Daniel, is a budding photographer. I hope you enjoy this wonderful recipe and beautiful pictures all the way from New Zealand!

 

Paula’s Healthy Spaghetti Bolognese

Paula's Healthy Mince 21 - Accidental Okie

Paula's Healthy Mince 2 - Accidental OkieStart by assembling your ingredients.

Paula's Healthy Mince 3 - Accidental OkieNext, finely chop two onions.

Paula's Healthy Mince 5 - Accidental OkieYou want a uniform, small chop.

Paula's Healthy Mince 8 - Accidental Okie

Now wash and peel the carrots and grate them. You can use either zucchini (courgettes) or spinach. If you’re going with zucchini, grate it now too.

Paula's Healthy Mince 6 - Accidental OkiePut the onions in a large dutch oven with some oil to start sautéing for about five minutes. Keep stirring so they don’t burn.

Paula's Healthy Mince 7 - Accidental OkieNow your house should smell of sautéed onions, which is one of the best smells God ever made. Add garlic that’s been mashed through a garlic press. Let the garlic cook for just a minute.

Paula's Healthy Mince 9 - Accidental OkieMove the onions to one side and add the mince (ground beef). Separate it with a wooden spoon so it breaks into big chunks.

Also, I have to say that I wish in America, we called it mince, not ground beef. It’s much less repulsive sounding. Let’s all start calling it mince.

Paula's Healthy Mince 10 - Accidental OkieAfter browning for a few minutes, it should look like this.

Paula's Healthy Mince 12 - Accidental OkieNow it’s time to add a can of diced tomatoes.

Paula's Healthy Mince 13 - Accidental OkieAdd tomato paste, ketchup and sugar.

Paula's Healthy Mince 17 - Accidental OkieAdd the beautiful carrots and spinach (or zucchini). At this stage, you can also add two sticks of chopped celery and a cup of chopped mushrooms. As you can see, this is a great recipe for vegetarians who can modify by eliminating the beef and upping the veggie content.

If you’re using dried herbs, add them now.

Paula's Healthy Mince 18 - Accidental OkieRed lentils are added after they’ve been rinsed and picked through to find lentil impostors, usually little stones.

Now add a touch of water and close the lid so there’s just a little gap for steam to escape. Let it cook for 30 minutes to an hour. Use this break to chop your fresh herbs, if you are using fresh herbs. Otherwise, go be productive. Or not.

Paula's Healthy Mince 19 - Accidental OkieAfter 30 minutes, this is what it looks like.  Add salt, pepper and herbs. Stir and cook for another five minutes. Taste once more and adjust as needed.

Paula's Healthy Mince 20 - Accidental OkieServe on pasta with a touch of parmesan cheese. 

It’s your choice – you can tell your guests (or kiddos) just how healthy this pasta sauce is, or it can be our little secret!

  1. Paula's Healthy Spaghetti Bolognese
    Serves 6
    Print
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    1 hr
    Prep Time
    15 min
    Cook Time
    1 hr
    Ingredients
    1. 2 white onions
    2. 1 Tbs oil
    3. 3 cloves garlic
    4. 1 pound lean mince
    5. 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
    6. 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    7. 3 Tbs tomato paste
    8. 2 Tbs tomato sauce
    9. 1 tsp sugar
    10. 2 large carrots
    11. 2 courgettes (zucchini) or ½ bunch spinach
    12. ¼ cup red lentils
    13. ¼ cup water
    14. 1 ½ tsp salt
    15. 2 shakes of finely ground black pepper
    16. A bunch of fresh Thyme & Oregano
    17. A bunch of fresh Parsley if you have it
    18. ¾ packet of vermicelli pasta
    Instructions
    1. 1. Chop onions & fry in oil until soft (about 5 min).
    2. 2. Wash carrots & grate them. Peel the courgettes & grate them too. If you are using spinach, wash it well & then chop. Keep stirring the onions so they don’t burn.
    3. 3. Peel garlic & crush it in the garlic crusher. Add to onions & fry for about 1 minute – until you can smell that lovely garlic smell : )
    4. 4. Scoop the onions to the side of the pot, turn up the heat.
    5. 5. Add the mince & crush it with a wooden spoon to break up the lumps & brown it.
    6. 6. Add the can of tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, tomato sauce/ketchup, sugar, carrots & courgettes or spinach.
    7. 7. Wash the red lentils in a sieve & add to mince.
    8. 8. Add water & stir well. Put the lid on, but leave a little gap for steam to escape.
    9. 9. Wash fresh herbs well (soak in a bowl of water for a while), then chop, set aside for later. If you are using dried herbs, just throw them in now.
    10. 10. Cook mince for at least 30 minutes (can be up to 1 hour if you have the time), stirring often to make sure it does not burn on the bottom.
    11. 11. Add salt & black pepper to the mince.
    12. 12. Add chopped herbs to the mince. Stir mixture well & cook for another 5 minutes or so. Taste to check the seasoning is right and you’re all done!
    Notes
    1. I sometimes add 2 sticks of chopped celery & or a cup of chopped mushrooms if I have them. I used frozen spinach in this recipe, but if I’m using fresh, I don’t pre-cook it, just wash it well, chop it up & toss it in with the other veggies.
    The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Comments

  1. rhonda farris says:

    I am going to try this, Paula. Looks so hearty with all the veges. Daniel did a great job on photography. He is very talented!.
    Mom.

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