Tuesday Night Bolognese

September 28, 2015


You know what I love? When friends serve spaghetti bolognese at a dinner party. It’s such an unexpected, cool move, like, “Welcome to our home, to our table and our real life!” It’s Tuesday night meal on a Saturday, with fancy plates and the good wine glasses.

Though I should say, the sauce my friends serve is a little more jazzy than the bolognese you might remember from your childhood. These folks are swish and slow cook things like it’s nobody’s business. There’s a richness to their recipes that is completely swoon-worthy, and one I cannot replicate. Yes, my bolognese is less fancy, though it has a few elements that make it “more than mince”. Over the years I’ve taken tips from my mum, friends and chefs I admire, adapting various ingredients and methods to create a dish that Ben and I favour. It’s rather heavy on the tomato (purely as a means of getting more serves out of the dish), and the herbs I use change seasonally. Our recipe is not overly complex in its layers of flavours, nor is it super rich. It’s more everyday, more Tuesday than Saturday night bolognese. But it’s comforting and wholesome and sits atop a pile of pasta, and that, folks, is everything I want right now.

We made a big batch recently to stock out freezer with ready meals on the days Ben is home late from work and I cannot bring myself to leave the couch after being milked all day long. The stand-alone freezer I bought myself for an early birthday present has proved wonderfully useful. It’s full of soup and stews from family, muffins from friends, loaves of bread from Dad, four tubs of Zebra Dream ice-cream from IGA when it was on sale, an apple pie leftover from my baby shower and now, three double-serves of spaghetti bolognese. I wanted to share the recipe because I always love to see how others make their bolognese, which mince they use and what kind of wine, red or white? I hope it inspires you to cook a batch* and sit down to a plate of pasta. It’ll be like I’m sending you a hug via the internet. A hug for all your sweet words about our baby and all the love you’ve shown us as we dive into this new phase of life. Thank you, folks x

Our Spaghetti Bolognese


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
90g thick-cut quality pancetta, cut into 0.5cm cubes
2 large sticks celery, finely diced
2 large carrots, finely diced
1/3 cup red wine (use a nice wine)
1kg grass-fed beef mince
500g free-range pork mince
1/3 cup milk
700g quality passata
2 x 400g tinned crushed or diced tomatoes**
3 dried bay leaves
1 large star anise***
A good pinch of dried oregano****
A handful of fresh basil (or parsley. or both)
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

* This post was sponsored by ASKO. Obviously, all opinions are my own. I just appreciate that they let me write about whatever I was cooking and alert you to their great products! If you are in the market for a new cooktop, ASKO have a wide range available here. I’d take the HG 1774 cooktop. Actually, I’ll just take this whole kitchen – right?! Thank you, team ASKO!
** I used one can of crushed tomatoes and one can of Mutti cherry tomatoes.
*** This is a tip from my friend Merowyn. It absolutely makes the dish!
**** I use dried oregano from good delis, the one on the stalk from Greece or Italy that I find to be more delicate and true in flavour. If using other dried oregano add a bit less.

1. Heat the oil over low-medium heat in a very large, heavy based saucepan. When hot, add the onions with a small pinch of sea salt and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft. Lower the heat as needed to avoid over-browning and use a wooden spoon to stir.
2. Add the pancetta cubes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring every now and then, allowing the fat to render and the pancetta to brown.
3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant.
4. Add the carrot and celery and cook until the vegetables are softening (a few minutes). Turn up the heat a little as needed.
5. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, allowing it to evaporate.
6. Add the meat and turn the heat up high. Break up the meat with the wooden spoon until the meat is browned.
7. Add the milk and stir to incorporate before adding the passatta, tinned tomatoes, bay leaf, star anise, oregano and basil.
8. When bubbling turn the heat down to the lowest heat and put the lid on. Cook for 3-4 hours. If it’s getting a bit dry, add some stock or more tomatoes, though I never have to. Be sure to leave the lid on!


Heidi xo

You Might Also Like

  • Lauren September 28, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Sounds delish Heidi – I always love trying new bolognese recipes 🙂

    Just wondering – is it really a teeny 8th of a cup of wine?

    P.s I hope you share baby recipes once Joan starts eating (which I’m sure feels like a lifetime away :))


    • Heidi September 28, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      Hi Lauren, thanks for picking that up!! It’s 1/3 cup, which no, isn’t a lot but mainly came out of us wanting to use a nice wine in cooking, but leave more for us to drink 😉 I’ll definitely be posting what Joan eats when she transitions from boob! x

  • Hannah September 28, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    I need to track down my father’s famous (literally not famous at all beyond our family) bolognese recipe – I think it’s more simple than this but oh gosh, does the taste take me back to magical childhood nights. And he always buttered the spaghetti, the champ.

    Thinking of you bella.

    ps “being milked”, haha!

  • Emma Stubbs September 29, 2015 at 8:48 am

    Looks and sounds divine! x

  • Emma @ Emma's Garden Grows September 29, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Milk! Well that is a new addition to a slag bol recipe I’ve never seen before. Will have to try it.

  • laurasmess September 29, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    My dad always put frozen peas in his bolognese, right at the end so they stayed vibrant (I loved it, the pops of green amongst the red! It was the only thing he could cook, alongside ‘dad’s special chicken’) and my mum always used a chopped aubergine, mushrooms and zucchini (actually, as many veggies as she could fit in the pot – probably why I love vegetables so much now!). It was my favourite meal right up til late primary school. Love seeing your version of this classic dish. I also adore how so many families personalise bolognese in the most beautiful of ways. I’m pretty sure everyone I know has a childhood bolognese story 😉 x

    • Heidi October 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

      I love that about bolognese, how everyone has their own version and with it, a story x

  • Julia @ Chic To Do September 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    My bolognese is overly simple, but it’s how I watched my Italian grandmother make it for years and years, and it was perfection in a bowl. Just mince (any – beef, pork, lamb, veal or a mix of two – my Nonna favoured veal and any other mince combined), tomato paste, passata, fresh basil and continental parsley and a heap of garlic and salt. I have pared back the salt in the recipe, and for a long time I used tinned tomatoes instead of tomato paste, but recently switched to paste and found it to be a much richer flavour, without the acidity that tinned tomatoes bring. I also throw in sliced mushrooms and diced zucchini and/or eggplant just to get a few veggies in there. So delicious. To make a napoletana sauce, just take away the mince. Soooo good.

    • Heidi October 6, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Sounds so incredibly delicious! I love hearing about traditional recipes x

  • Angie @ Infinite Health & Wellness September 30, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I need to try this! I’m due mid-March next year, this will go down well 🙂

    • Heidi October 6, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Baby-growing fuel!! Congratulations, Angie x

  • Kate @mindfoodly October 8, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Heidi,

    How many will this serve 🙂 and how much pasta do you usually serve per person?

    Love this recipe

    • Heidi October 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Kate! I get about 7 servings from this, less if we’re having hungry days. Ben & I cook half a 500g packet between us often, big appetites 😉 x

  • Dinner at mine: pizza | HealthyFolk October 20, 2015 at 8:47 am

    […] series is very much inspired by the amazing heidiapples and in particular her post on Tuesday Night Bolognese. Where she says ‘When friends serve spaghetti bolognese at a dinner party. It’s such an […]

  • Pumpkin and White Bean Stew | Amuze Bouches September 18, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    […] huge fan of the Apples Under my Bed blog by Heidi, and a long time ago I was reading a recipe for a tomato sauce where she swears by adding a star anise. So I tried it and and became hooked. I wouldn’t […]