Heather’s Bolognese

Heather’s Bolognese

Heather's Bolognese close up

by Andrea Cullen

June 28th 2014

This week mum pulled out one of her tried and tested recipes…. from the oven. And I had three portions in one evening; the sign of a good recipe!

So I am gratefully sharing her recipe for all here to enjoy. This recipe is pretty much fool proof and can be altered based on what you have available. It is one of those kitchen sink tried and tested dishes that can be returned to time and time again when you want to cook something fast, nutritious, and filling. This is a comfort meal; Dad asked for it to be on the menu a second time this week. Nothing compares to home-cooked nourishment.

Serving suggestions:

You may serve this traditionally on spaghetti, whole-wheat spaghetti, or gluten-free spaghetti made from quinoa, millet, buckwheat or brown rice. Or you may decide to make your meal lower in processed carbohydrates and serve this Bolognese on spaghetti squash, steamed vegetables (broccoli is a great choice as it soaks the sauce up beautifully) or spiralized vegetables.

Ingredients for Heather’s Bolognese

This is a very flexible recipe and I have added some options that you may like to try using additional ingredients; this leads to deviation from the more traditional Bolognese but does add further nutritional clout from added vegetables or beans.

The addition of carrots to this recipe adds sweetness and lightness to the meal and also stretches your mince thus helping the recipe for go further bite for buck.

  • 1 Onion – finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves of Garlic depending on your gra for garlic – finely chopped, minced, or pushed through a garlic press
  • Extra virgin olive oil or if you prefer to use coconut oil for health reasons this is fine also (may influence the taste a little)
  • 1 lb/ 450g finely ground Irish organic steak or beef mince
  • 1-2 carrots – grated
  • 1 small tin tomato puree or 1/2 glass jar tomato puree
  • 1 x 400g/ 14 oz can chopped tomatoes or 1/2 large glass jar of tomatoes or tomato passata
  • It is preferable to choose tomato products that are packaged in glass or non-BPA containing cans to reduce endocrine disrupting chemical exposure. Due to the acidic nature of tomatoes these are especially vulnerable to absorbing BPA from can linings containing this substance (most). If you have problems locating these brands then I-herb and amazon are useful websites.
  • Herbs – your choice of mixed herbs, Italian herbs, or fresh herbs. Suggested herbs include oregano, thyme, and bay leaf.
  • Red wine – decent glug
  • Optional half to one msg-free good quality stock cube or home made stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional and recommended 1 teaspoon caster sugar to bring out the flavours

Optional ingredients include the following:

  • You may wish to use turkey or chicken mince as a variation on this recipe
  • Celery – diced
  • Courgettes – grated
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Brown or wild mushrooms
  • Chunks of butter squash
  • Canned beans if you wish to stretch this out even further and make your meat budget last several meals.

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  1. Warm a glug of olive oil in a large sauce pan and sauté the onions and garlic until transparent.
  2. Add the mince to ‘brown’ it and seal the flavours. Use a  wooden spoon to break up the pieces.
  3. Add the grated carrots and stir together.
  4. Add your herbs, tomato puree, tomatoes, and a glug of red wine.
  5. I suggest that you add a flat teaspoon of sugar as this makes all the difference to the Bolognese flavours. This is a neat trick for most tomato based dishes 🙂
  6. Mix and transfer to a Pyrex or casserole dish; cover with the lid.
  7. Transfer to the oven and bake at 180 C/ 350 F for approximately 60-90 minutes (this may be cooked in a slow cooker if you prefer).
  8. Add further stock or filtered water as necessary to keep the dish moist and keep covered with the lid or foil to prevent excess browning or drying.
  9. In other words keep an eye on your dish and add further liquids as required to create a tasty juicy dish.
  10. If adding celery, butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, or grated courgette these may be added at the point when you add the carrots. If you are adding mushrooms I suggest frying these separately first to bring out their flavours. Canned beans may be added as you add the tomato puree and canned tomatoes.
  11. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. I am a fan of Irish Atlantic sea salt.
  12. Serve on spaghetti, steamed broccoli, or spirallized vegetables.

This dish lasts well improving over time and makes for wonderful leftovers. A few suggestions for leftovers include:

  • filling for baked potatoes
  • cold or warmed filling in cabbage leaves or vine leaves
  • cold or warmed filling in sushi wraps; see here for an example:

Enjoy my mum’s tasty recipe; as ever comments and feedback is welcomed.

Mum recommends that you double up the recipe and freeze several portions for busy days.



Heather's Bolognaise


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