Mediterranean Spaghetti Bolognese

Can't Cook! - Mediterranean Spaghetti Bolognese (ragù alla Bolognese)

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Ok let's get it straight everyone can cook period!

If you know what a cooker, pot and pan look like then you can cook. Enjoy making coffee or tea? Then you can cook! You boiled the water added the ingredients in a measured amount presented it and viola!

Many people are afraid of cooking because they feel that unless they produce master menus that it's not cooking. This is totally wrong and mis-informed.

Cooking is just a process that involves either the application of heat or energy into food stuff in order to make it edible...take note of that word energy. Yep, you need energy to be applied either in the form of arranging i.e. cutting dicing or shredding food stuff in order to make it appear even more appetizing and finally presentable for consumption. Recipes are the templates to cooking and should be always treated as so. You don't have to follow everything to the letter. Use your imagination and flair with the peripheral parts. Every recipe has a core and peripheral elements. The core of the recipe is the parts that make it recognizable as what it is. Let me explain...

Take spaghetti Bolognese. Bolognese sauce (ragù alla bolognese in Italian, also known by its French name sauce bolognaise) is a meat-based sauce for pasta originating in Bologna, Italy. Bolognese sauce is sometimes taken to be a tomato sauce but authentic recipes have only a very small amount of tomato, perhaps a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste. The people of Bologna traditionally serve their famous ragù alla Bolognese with freshly made tagliatelle (tagliatelle alla Bolognese). Less traditionally, the sauce is served with rigatoni or used as the stuffing for lasagne or cannelloni.

The core of this dish is meat, pasta and a little tomato. What's the peripheral elements? Well, just about anything you want!...I've added corn, peas, spinach onions, diced hot peppers for a hotter dish. I have added some salami for a bit of meat mixture and have yet to try pineapple chunks (if you try this last ingredient then add the chunks last and don't over cook!

Let's take a simple dish based on the above recipe...


Minced beef (I like to get a mix of 60/40 beef to pork mix - you generally need a fist full for each person if you like it very mincey and use half if not. Chopped Tomatoes - comes in a tin and really any size will generally be ok. Beef flavoring if you like your taste beefy! Use a deep-sided frying pan and cook the mince with a medium heat until dark brown until no pink is seen (It's always better to over cook than under cook this ingredient) You can tell when it's on the way to being over-cooked because you will start to see the oil juices of the meat appear at the bottom of the pan. Add flavoring and keep stirring. Add the tomatoes and stir until well mixed in. Add salt and a little pepper to taste. That's it you're essentially done. For the spaghetti - bring to boil some water in a pot to take you spaghetti. Add a pinch of salt if you want but this is not really required. Add the spaghetti and simmer until cooked. When is it cooked? It's cooked when you can easily pinch a little bit or just taste if it's ready. If you over cook this then quickly run the pot under some cold water to stop the cooking process. This all took about 20 mins. That's the core done.

Let's now add a little flair!

For personalization add any of the following ingredients:

Peas and corn for flavor and color (you don't need too much just a couple of spoonfuls). Stir into mix until cooked.

Extra Tomatoe puree for strong tomatoe flavor

Teaspoon of white wine - make sure to cook out all the alcohol. Just taste to suit. Add this during the cooking of your mince

Teaspoon of Extra Virgin oil (try not to over cook this wonderful flavor. I usually add this at the end and with the heat turned off)

Garlic - crushed and stirred into mix. A clover or two should be enough

Basil leaves finely chopped - adds a fresh taste and flavor

Herbs and spices - add to suit your taste

Onions - if you're going to added this ingredient I would suggest that you add this during the cooking of the mince...cook till golden brown.

Chopped peppers - yellow and red for color and taste (add after the mince is cooked and then just cook for an extra minute or two). Leave to rest for five minutes and then serve. This allows the peppers to cook some more.

Pineapple - No cooking required so add this ingredient at the end.

Fresh leaves ingredients - Explore you really can't go wrong! (Just remember to chop finely before adding - this will infuse the flavor and taste into your dish)

Essentially, you are aiming for a typical Mediterranean dish - so think about the core as Mediterranean and the peripheral as coming from anywhere on the globe!

Thing slices of salami meat add an extra meaty flavor when adding this try not to use any salt in your cooking because the meats have already been salted.


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'The Chef' - Dan Goldberg

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