Thursday, 14 January 2016

Courgetti Bolognese

I finally got a spiraliser at Christmas and am quickly becoming addicted to it. I have made a range of courgetti or courgette pasta/noodles with the likes of a skinny carbonara, with spicy prawns or with a simple tomato and basil sauce and these have all been great. For me though, whenever I diet, my body seems to crave my favourite comfort foods and Spaghetti Bolognese is up there so it was inevitable I would create a skinny version.

The below is the recipe to make enough for four portions of Bolognese and then I spiralise a 100g courgette for myself (18 calories), whereas my partner would have around 75g whole wheat spaghetti (255 calories), so you can the huge difference in calories right there. If I were to be exercising later or needed a carb fix I mix up my courgetti with 25g whole wheat spaghetti but for January, at least, I’m leaving the pasta out. I also omit from adding pancetta or bacon to cut down the calories some more.

One portion of the below, with the 100g spiralised courgette and an indulgent 15g grating of either mature cheddar or Parmesan comes in at 415 calories and it’s incredibly filling and utterly delicious. I made this for two friends last week who really enjoyed it too. I do use 1 tbsp olive oil as it just wouldn’t feel like an authentic Bolognese without it – but if you’re keen to cut the calories even more, omit from using and simply dry fry.

Finally this dish benefits from low and slow cooking – I try to cook for three hours as then it becomes rich and delicious, and let’s face it deliciousness isn’t something we always associate with diets and healthy food, but if you are pushed for time or trying to throw this together mid-week, then reduce the cooking time to forty minutes (any less and you won’t get the intensity of flavour).

Courgetti Bolognese

  • 400g lean steak mince
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 carrots
  • 100g celery
  • 1 onion
  • 120g mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 glass Chianti or another Italian red wine
  • 1 chicken stock cube topped up with 100ml boiling water
  • Your choice of courgetti or spaghetti (I use 100g courgetti for me, 75g whole wheat spaghetti for my partner)
  • 1 more clove garlic
  • Mature Cheddar or Parmesan (approx. 15g per person) - optional

Firstly add the olive oil to a non-stick pan and place on a low heat.

Finely dice the onion and garlic and add to the pan to gently sauté. Whilst these are softening and flavouring the oil, peel the carrots, then either dice finely or grate and set aside. Finely slice the celery and mushrooms too and also set aside for the moment.

Now add the mince to the pan and allow to brown, mixing with a spatula throughout to prevent it sticking together. Season at this point and also add the cinnamon as this gives the meat a lovely depth of flavour (a lovely Greek Yiayai or Nanny gave me this tip when I was working in Corfu a few years back).

Once browned add the celery, mushrooms and carrots and allow to cook for two minutes, turning to try and coat each piece in the flavoured oil. Now add the tomatoes, tomato puree and red wine and chicken stock, season again to your taste and give a good stir. Now pop the lid on and cook for up to three hours, stirring every five to ten minutes and making sure it’s on a really low, gentle heat.

To make the courgetti as flavoursome as possible I firstly dry fry the remaining garlic clove in a clean pan for a minute, then add the courgette and cook for approximately 1 minute, tossing it as you go.

Now to plate up – you can either dish up your courgetti (or spaghetti if using) and then spoon your portion of Bolognese on top in the traditional British way (as I have in the picture) or you can mix it all together which will distribute the wonderful flavour of the meat sauce and avoid any dry courgette moments. Enjoy.

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