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Traditional Bolognese – One Sauce Two Ways

We have Bolognese as a midweek meal most weeks. It is a family pleaser that you can sneak vegetables into totally under the radar!

Ingredients Needed For Bolognese Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery finely chopped
  • 500g mince beef (this can be substituted with a meat free alternative, but it must be a good quality one like Quorn)
  • 1/2 cup 125ml of beef stock (using 2 stock cubes or bouillon cubes)
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 splash Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs of fresh oregano
  • 10-12 leaves of fresh basil (hold back enough for each dish to have a few to serve)
  • Parmesan to serve
  • 400g Pasta (we are all in favor of spaghetti but being a realist I know the kids need easier to eat shapes at the moment! You know your family so go with the same quantity of any shape)

How To Make Bolognese Sauce

  1. Fry the onion for around 3 minutes in a medium heat, then add the garlic and carrots and celery.
  2. Keep this mix moving for a few more minutes and then add your beef or vegetarian alternative. Brown the meat for several minutes, moving it as you do to break it up a little.
  3. Add the stock and tomato puree to the pan. Move it all around and allow to bubble.
  4. Next add the tinned tomatoes. Stir it all together to get that gorgeous color.
  5. When it is simmering add the splash of Worcestershire sauce along with the fresh herbs. You can strip the sprigs of thyme and oregano and add just the leaves, or you can add the stalks and pull them out later on.
  6. Now go slow and low. The lower and slower the better. Ideal for swimming nights in our house as I can make it up and let it simmer while everyone has their lessons and it gets around an hour to simmer. Ideally though no less than 30 minutes.
  7. Just before serving roughly shred half of your basil leaves and stir them through the sauce, you do not want wilted leaves but it just opens up the essential oils.

Notes on Serving Bolognese

The traditional way to serve a Bolognese sauce is to run it all through together. Not everyone in our house likes that, but I do! So play to your homes preferences.

classic bolognese sauce recipe

How To Make Bolognese A Weekend Spectacular!

To turn this recipe up a notch follow these few ingredient changes and extra touches to really lift it!


  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 packet pancetta
  • 1 large red onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pureed
  • 500g of slow cooked beef, shredded
  • 1/2 (125ml) cup red wine
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs each rosemary, thyme, oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bag of mini Buffalo Mozzarella balls (optional extra!)
  • 8 leaves fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan to serve
  • (400g fresh pasta)

TOP TIP- Make up your sauce the day before your dinner party. This way the flavors will truly infuse throughout and even leave the bouquet garni in until you reheat the Bolognese the following day.


  1. Heat the olive oil then add the pancetta and onions. Fry until the onion is soft and the pancetta is lightly browned.
  2. Then add the garlic for a further minute, before adding the beef. Make sure to Go gently with this already cooked beef. We find that it is more true to the origins of Bolognese to use ready cooked ‘leftover’ beef. This does mean that you are twice cooking it, so it will be truly soft and much more of a ragu.
  3. The add the red wine, allowing it to burn the alcohol away. moving it from the bottom of the pan with your spoon. Crumble over the stock cubes.
  4. After a ten minute low simmer, add the tinned tomatoes and puree along with a pinch of sugar to slightly lift the bitter tomato flavor.
  5. Now add your sprigs of herbs along with your bay leaves that you have tied together as a bouquet garni.
  6. Once it has started bubbling, turn it right down low. To the lowest setting on your hob. Pop the lid back on and get on with your day for a little while.
  7. Check back on it and stir to scrap the bottom of the pan to stop the flavor being lost.
  8. After about 2 hours you can uncover and remain on the lowest heat, a few bubbles occasionally but not simmering. Leave for a further 2 hours, stirring intermittently.

If you have made your Bolognese the day before, allow it to cool on the hob and then pop into the fridge overnight. When you are ready to serve warm it gently until it bubbles again. Cook your pasta and then drain. Mix your pasta to your Bolognese sauce and leave on the hob under a medium heat for a few minutes more. Now add the mozzarella balls and stir through to warm them, not to cook them. This makes the sauce more unctuous.

TOP TIP- If you do not want to mix your Bolognese sauce through the pasta that is not a problem. To make your pasta next level you can add a few knobs of herb butter to toss through. This will give the same level of luxury without needing to mix the sauce through.

TO SERVE – grate fresh parmesan with fresh herbs on top, basil for preference.

What Next

We love to grow our own food and cook with it most nights. If you are uncertain how to grow herbs and harder to find ingredients for your recipes, do have a little search through our site. We try to cover most areas, but let us know if there is something you would like to know more about. For more basil infused recipes we have a full list available here of our top ideas and inspiration!

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