One of my favourite family meals has to be spaghetti bolognese. I don’t have masses of time to cook, so I’m always looking to adapt recipes for my slow cooker, which is a godsend for batch cooking! Put it in, switch it on, forget about it all day – perfect!
At weekends, when John isn’t working, we try to make mealtimes a family affair. It’s really nice to sit together and share a homemade, nutritious meal. It’s great for modelling good eating habits, for the boys to learn manners and social skills. I admit though that I do have a slight ulterior motive… okay let’s not call it that, it’s more of an unforeseen benefit. When we all eat together it means a) I don’t have to cook another meal for John and I later on, therefore having more free time and b) less washing up!
Douglas and Arthur love fruit but would avoid many vegetables if they were visible on their plate. (I’m sure this is a fairly common story with toddlers.) I have to sneak some in where I can, so I took to adding some to a traditional bolognese sauce base, making it really colourful at the same time! With a bit of preparation, I can have this ‘Rainbow Spaghetti Bolognese’ bubbling away in the slow cooker within 15 minutes.
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
- 1/2 small courgette, diced
- 1/4 aubergine (or a small handful), diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 500g lean beef mince
- 1 clove garlic, crushed (I actually use frozen chopped garlic and it’s a handy cheat)
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 dessert spoon tomato puree
- 1 scant teaspoon dried mixed herbs
- 2 dessert spoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and soften the garlic and onion for a few minutes
- Add in the mince and cook, stirring until browned
- Place the mince, onion and garlic into the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients
- Stir it all together and switch the slow cooker on! I cook mine on High all day (around 7 hours) as my twins like everything quite soft, but I think 4 hours + at any level would be fine too if you don’t have as much time.
We find this recipe makes enough bolognese for four adult and two toddler portions, when served with spaghetti. If you’re feeling super-frugal, you can stretch out the leftovers into another full meal. Combine the rest of the bolognese with some cooked pasta, pour over some béchamel sauce, sprinkle on some grated cheese and bake in the oven for 30 minutes for a yummy bolognese bake!
To make this really quick to put together in the morning, chop all the ‘rainbow’ veg and pop it in a zip-lock bag in the freezer overnight. I also buy bags of pre-diced onions most weeks as it’s such a time (and tears) saver!
One happy little bolognese face!
Do you think your family would like this recipe? I’d love to know if you try it! Do you have your own ‘family favourite’ recipe?