Thursday, 11 March 2010

A Bol' Full of Veggies

This has got to be the boys' favourite meal of all times. Pasta bolognese. I know without a doubt, because it magically disappears at dinner time. There's often silence at the table, until someone shouts out "MORE!" I think they generally love their pasta, of any sort, shape and sizes.

When I make bolognese, I generally make a huge pot and there's so much stuff in it! The Italians might scream blue murder at me for calling this a "Bolognese Sauce", but oh well, it's my version of it anyways. These are only rough measurements as I sometimes use more or less of the meat/vegetables, depending on what I have.


500-600g good quality beef mince
300-400g good quality Italian sausages (Sometimes I use Spanish chorizo and they smell absolutely divine)
2 large brown onions, chopped finely
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 stalks of celery, chopped finely
2 medium carrots, chopped
6 - 8 tomatoes, chopped (depending on the season, or how much I have growing in my backyard. In winter, I just use bottled/canned crushed tomatoes - 2 x 600g cans)
1 tsp allspice - cinnamon/nutmeg/clove (sometimes omitted)
2 tablespoon concentrated tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine (sometimes omitted)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Splash or two of extra virgin olive oil

A handful of bay leaves, but ever since my bay leaf tree died (yes it died! sob sob... from the drought, and Gary was building a gate near it, the mortar probably affected some of its root system) I used a few sprigs of rosemary instead.

I don't know what it is about (most) mums and their obsession with getting vegetables in their kids' diet, and I admit, I am one of them. So sometimes I do grate some zucchini to be added into the sauce, or chuck in a can of beans or pulses. Gaaahhh.... those damn hard poos! So you see, the sauce generally varies depending on the situation and what I have in the fridge or pantry but the main ingredients remain the same.

I also keep some bottled pasta sauce in the pantry and may add them in depending on the thickness of the sauce.

So I brown the meats in a large heavy based pan, with a splash of olive oil, and then remove and set them aside. With a bit more oil in the same pan, I add the onions and garlic and saute them until they're soft and translucent, lifting up bits of caramelised meat at the bottom and sides of the pan. I then throw in the celery and carrot and saute until they're soft, adding a bit of salt and pepper.

Add the white wine if using, and simmer for a little while. The alcohol content in the wine would have all evaporated by the time it's finished cooking anyways because it is such a long cooking process.

And then all I do is return the meat and its juices back into the pot, and throw everything else in including the tomatoes, paste/passata, whatever else I am using (except the beans) and let it simmer gently for about an hour.

While this is happening, I could sit back and relax for a little while, watch Days of Our Lives, or run around the house doing little errands. Don't forget to stir the sauce every once in a while, just making sure it is not burning or sticking at the bottom of the pot. I use a heavy cast iron pot (heart heart heart - a very good investment), and it is generally OK to simmer all the way through without me interfering. And voila, there you have it. A HUGE pot of bolognese sauce.

So what do I do with so much leftover sauce anyways? Aaahhh.... the possibilities are endless!

1. They freeze very well, so sometimes it is kept frozen as emergency food.

2. The boys love pasta, so they can have it on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.... haha, kidding!

3. Lasagne. I usually just make a tray of Lasagne for the next day anyways. Or if there's a dinner party the next day or so, it is such an easy dish to bring or serve. Oh yeah baby, I just whipped up a tray of Lasagne, just like that! ;)

4. I made Moussaka the other day, after watching Better Homes and Gardens, and remembering that I had leftover meat sauce in the fridge. All I did was cut the eggplants in 1cm slices. Sprinkle some salt all over the sliced eggplant and set them aside for 10 minutes. This is to get rid of the excess fluid. Rinse them under some cold water and pat dry with a tea towel. Grill them with some olive oil. And then layer the grilled eggplant with the Bolognese and some bread crumbs and bechemel sauce. Top with some grated cheddar and Parmesan. Bake in a preheated oven (180 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes or so. Mmmmmm.....

To make the Bechemel sauce, melt equal quantities of butter and plain flour in a pot, stir until it resembles wet bread crumbs. Whisk in 3 cups of warm milk, with a pinch of ground nutmeg and stir until thick. Add in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan and 1/4 cup of grated cheddar. Stir until melted through.

I just looooove eggplants!

There you go! That's THE secret sauce that my boys loooove so much. (They really dislike eggplants though, the big boy included) So really, I have the moussaka all to myself! Slurp! Best Blogger Tips


maggie said...

me too! i love egg plants!

Charmaine said...

strange, but my hubby dislikes eggplants whilst I absolutely love eggplants. Good idea with the moussaka, must try the recipe.

jlo said...

must be a guy thing, by husband hates it and i love it!

Grace said...

Mmmm yum yum yum, eggplants with sambal and dried shrimps are my favourite! Yeah ladies, the guys don't know what they're missing out on! ;)

Wandernut said...

how about chopping eggplant into itsy bitsy cubes and adding it into your sauce? hahahahahh